Last fall a study came out that estimated that annually about 3.3 million deaths throughout the world were caused from air pollution. But a study was presented Friday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) that gave a much higher estimate of annual air pollution deaths: 5.5 million. A horrifying number. And yet... governments, companies, and people resist measures to cut air pollution. Why? It costs money. And also many people are too poor (e.g., China and India) to use cleaner sources of heating and cooking fuel - so they are damaging their own health in their own homes. From Science Daily:
New research shows that more than 5.5 million people die prematurely every year due to household and outdoor air pollution. More than half of deaths occur in two of the world's fastest growing economies, China and India.
Power plants, industrial manufacturing, vehicle exhaust and burning coal and wood all release small particles into the air that are dangerous to a person's health. New research, presented today at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), found that despite efforts to limit future emissions, the number of premature deaths linked to air pollution will climb over the next two decades unless more aggressive targets are set.
"Air pollution is the fourth highest risk factor for death globally and by far the leading environmental risk factor for disease," said Michael Brauer, a professor at the University of British Columbia's School of Population and Public Health in Vancouver, Canada. "Reducing air pollution is an incredibly efficient way to improve the health of a population."
For the AAAS meeting, researchers from Canada, the United States, China and India assembled estimates of air pollution levels in China and India and calculated the impact on health. Their analysis shows that the two countries account for 55 per cent of the deaths caused by air pollution worldwide. About 1.6 million people died of air pollution in China and 1.4 million died in India in 2013.
In China, burning coal is the biggest contributor to poor air quality. Qiao Ma, a PhD student at the School of Environment, Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, found that outdoor air pollution from coal alone caused an estimated 366,000 deaths in China in 2013....In India, a major contributor to poor air quality is the practice of burning wood, dung and similar sources of biomass for cooking and heating. Millions of families, among the poorest in India, are regularly exposed to high levels of particulate matter in their own homes.
In the last 50 years, North America, Western Europe and Japan have made massive strides to combat pollution by using cleaner fuels, more efficient vehicles, limiting coal burning and putting restrictions on electric power plants and factories.
Additional facts about air pollution: - World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines set daily particulate matter at 25 micrograms per cubic metre. - At this time of year, Beijing and New Delhi will see daily levels at or above 300 micrograms per cubic meter metre; 1,200 per cent higher than WHO guidelines..... - According to the Global Burden of Disease study, air pollution causes more deaths than other risk factors like malnutrition, obesity, alcohol and drug abuse, and unsafe sex.... - Cardiovascular disease accounts for the majority of deaths from air pollution with additional impacts from lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and respiratory infections. Video: https://youtu.be/Kwoqa84npsU