Megan Melamed, International Global Atmospheric Chemistry (IGAC) Project, USA
In 2012, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) projected that by 2050 air pollution will be the top environmental cause of mortality worldwide, surpassing dirty water and lack of sanitation. However, the World Health Organization recently reported that in 2012 approximately 7 million people died as a result of exposure to air pollution, making it the world’s largest single environmental risk, 38 years earlier than projected by OECD. Many urban areas in both emerging and developed countries continually exceed the 2005 World Health Organization (WHO) Air Quality Standards. The map below shows urban areas that exceed the WHO standard for annual average PM10 of <20 µg/m3 (only the urban areas with green dots are meeting the WHO standard).