Air pollution kills more than three million prematurely every year: Scientists
More than three million
people around the world die prematurely because of air pollution, scientists
have estimated. Most of the deaths occur in Asia, where large number of people
in countries such as India and China use highly polluting methods of heating
and cooking in their homes.
In the US, traffic pollution
made the biggest contribution to global death rates while in Europe, Russia and
eastern Asia, agricultural sources had the greatest impact. Outdoor air
pollution includes ozone, a toxic form of oxygen, and tiny sooty particles that
lodge in the lungs.
The study, published in
the journal Nature, was conducted by combining a global atmospheric chemistry
model with population data and health statistics. Scientists predict that
premature mortality from air pollution could double by 2050 with a death toll
of 6.6 million lives per year.
The authors, led by
Professor Jos Lelieveld, from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz,
German, concluded, “Our results suggest that if the projected increase in
mortality attributable to air pollution is to be avoided, intensive air quality
control measures will be needed, particularly in South and East Asia.
characterised uncertainty about the relative toxicity of various classes of
particles such as sulphates, nitrates, organics, crustal materials, black
carbon, and especially smoke from biomass combustion, limits unambiguous
attribution of sources. Nevertheless, our study suggests that emissions from
residential energy use should be considered in air pollution control strategies
and, if all fine particles are equally toxic, the reduction of agricultural
emissions would improve air quality.”
The picture shows Chinese
parents hold their young children receiving treatment for respiratory illness
caused by smog in Hangzhou city.
A related paper in the
journal Nature Geoscience reported that around 400 to 1,700 premature deaths
per year might have been avoided in recent years as a result of large
reductions in deforestation-related fires in the Brazilian Amazon. (Press