Report: Air pollution killed 7 million people in 2012
Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 3:03 PM -
An estimated 7 million people around the world died due to air pollution in 2012, according to a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The United Nations health agency says more than half of those deaths were linked to indoor smoke from cook stoves -- especially from women and children breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves in developing countries.
WHO says air pollution is now the "single largest environmental health risk."
Back in October, the organization officially recognized air pollution is a cancer-causing agent, adding it to its official list of known carcinogens.
Researchers say the more people are exposed to damaging air particulates, the higher their risk of developing lung and bladder cancers.
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It has been estimated that air pollution led to more than 220,000 lung cancer deaths globally in 2010 alone.
In some places -- like Beijing, China -- air pollution is a persistent problem.
The city's air quality index regularly exceeds 500 micrograms. On January 12, 2013, the particulate level skyrocketed to 755 micrograms -- setting a new record.
The World Health Organization recommends a maximum daily level of 20 micrograms.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, levels higher than 300 micrograms per cubic meter are considered "hazardous."