Air pollution kills 3.2 million people yearly, more than AIDS and malaria combined
Scientists say meeting global air quality guidelines could prevent 2.1 million deaths per year.
They developed a global model of how changes in outdoor air pollution could reduce health problems, including heart attack, stroke and lung cancer.
The study was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
And their findings reveal outdoor particulate air pollution results in 3.2 million premature deaths each year – more than the combined impact of HIV/AIDS and malaria.
By meeting the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) particulate air quality guidelines, the team of environmental engineering and public health researchers estimate 2.1 million early deaths could be prevented.
The new study is the first detailed analysis of how improvements in particulate air pollution worldwide would yield improvement in health, and where those improvements would occur.
The researchers looked at outdoor air pollution from particulate matter (PM) smaller than 2.5 microns, which can enter deep into the lungs.
Breathing PM is associated with increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular disease; respiratory illnesses such as emphysema; and cancer.
PM pollution comes from fires, coal power plants, cars and lorries, plus agricultural and industrial emissions.
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