Air pollution is the ‘silent killer’ that claims seven million lives a year

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At the Human Rights Council in Geneva, David Boyd, Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, insisted that air pollution is a “silent, sometimes invisible, prolific killer” which affected women and girls more than men.

Air pollution is present both inside homes and outside and is responsible for the premature death of seven million people each year, including 600,000 children, according to the Special Rapporteur’s report.

“Every hour, 800 people are dying, many after years of suffering, from cancer, respiratory illnesses or heart disease directly caused by breathing polluted air,” he said, before highlighting that these deaths were preventable.

Among the Special Rapporteur’s key recommendations are a ban on new fossil energy power plants and the replacement of existing ones by 2030, along with support for the growth of distributed renewable energy generation systems.

Shifting to renewable energy could save up to 150 million lives by the end of the century amid concerns that six billion people regularly inhale air “so polluted that it puts their life, health and well-being at risk”, a UN-appointed independent rights expert said on Monday.

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