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Truth Behind the Headlines: Half the world's population is exposed to increasing air pollution

A new report by the University of Exeter and the World Health Organisation (WHO) finds more than half of the world’s population is exposed to increasing air pollution despite global efforts to tackle toxic fumes. 


The research team examined trends in global air quality between 2010 and 2016, comparing the data to global efforts to reduce pollution through short and long-term policies.  


Researchers used ground monitoring stations and satellite data to provide yearly, air-quality profiles for individual countries and wider regions. 

Using our recommended five tips, Global Action Plan reviewed the study:


Questions to ask to get to the truth Our response
1. Does the article refer to a report to back up its claims? Yes, but  the research doe not disclose if it has been peer reviewed.
2. Who is behind the study it refers to? Gavin Shadwick, Department of Mathematics, University of Exeter University of Exeter. M. L. Thomas, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London. P. Mudu, G. Ruggeri, S. Gumy the World Health Organisation (WHO).
3. How fantastical and radical is the claim that is being made? The study is plausible and methodologically sound, however as Professor Shaddick mentions: "precise quantification of the outcomes of specific policies is difficult” meaning it is hard to show cause and effect as to whether certain policies had a direct impact on air pollution levels in countries across the world. The research also discloses that certain regions’ data may have been limited if not completely unavailable, particularly for earlier years.
4. What geographical region does the claim refer to? Global
5. What is the sample size of the study?

This information is based on ground monitoring from 9690 stations around the world from the WHO cities database for 2010–2016.

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