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Air Pollution On The Rise In Emerging Nations

March 23, 2009

Emerging nations in Asia and South America are becoming increasingly large contributors of greenhouse gas emissions, according to UN scientists.

While pollution rates in Europe have been reduced over the past 20 years, emerging nations’ air pollution rate actually increased as cities boomed.

Scientists at the UN’s meteorological agency reported these findings in advance of World Meteorological Day on Monday.

Some two million people die each year due to air pollutants from a variety of industrial sources, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Additionally, WHO found that the rate of death was 15 to 20 percent higher in cities with higher particle pollution than in cleaner cities.

“Particulate matter is of great concern in cities,” Liisa Jalkanen, atmospheric environment research chief at the World Meteorological Organization, told AFP.

“In Asia many cities such as Karachi, New Delhi, Kathmandu, Dacca, Shanghai, Beijing, and Mumbai they exceed all the limits.”

“Also several cities in South America such as Lima, Santiago, Bogota. The worst city in Africa is Cairo.”

Urban cities are expected to continue to grow, said the UN, which expects them to boom by proportions of two-thirds by 2030.

Len Barrie, director of WMO research, told AFP that restrictions set up in Europe after concern about acid rain emerged in the 1980s have cut concentrations of another pollutant, sulphur dioxide, there “by a factor of 20″.

“In other areas where economic growth has leapt forward, such as Asia, China, India, the opposite is true,” he added. In North America levels were largely kept in check.

“There’s a real awakening in China on the economic benefits of reducing air pollution.”

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