Air pollution is the largest single environmental risk for health, recognised by the World Health Assembly (WHA) Resolution of May 2015 as being of major public health concern.
The latest edition of WHO air quality guidelines for ambient air pollutants was published in 2006, and included recommendations for particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2).
Since then, the evidence base for adverse health effects related to short- and long-term exposure to these pollutants has become much larger and broader. The WHA Resolution recognised the role of WHO guidelines for both ambient air quality and indoor air quality in providing guidance and recommendations for clean air that protect human health. In particular, it requested the Director-General to strengthen WHO capacities in the field of air pollution and health through the development and regular update of WHO guidelines in order to facilitate decision making, and to provide support and guidance to Member States in their efficient implementation.
As a result in 2016 WHO has started the work towards the update of the Global Air Quality Guidelines. The project is benefitting from funds and/or in-kind support from the European Commission (DG-Environment), the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is expected to provide up-to-date recommendations to continue protecting populations worldwide from the adverse health effects of ambient air pollution.
[Source: WHO, 2016]