Sep 19, 2015

Air Pollution Officially Kills More People Than HIV/AIDs

Even if every country imposes existing air-quality legislation, the death toll caused by air pollution is likely to double by 2050.

smoke-654072_1280Did you know? Mankind's unsustainable habits have far-reaching – and deadly – effects. Sure, you were aware of the toll environmental pollution has on the oceans and wildlife but were you also aware how critical of an in issue air pollution has become?

Every year, 3.3 million people, worldwide, are killed prematurely by air pollution. And it gets worse: By the year 2050, even if every country imposes existing air-quality legislation, that number is likely to double.

Scientists estimate that the outdoor air quality is leading to millions of premature deaths – especially in east and south Asian countries.

In Asia, most of the air pollutants people inhale come from the burning of fuel for heating and cooking. The estimates do not include the number of deaths from indoor pollution, which is estimated to be another 3 million deaths a year, scientists say.

In the United States, the greatest impact is from traffic and power-generation pollution; in Europe, it is mainly from agricultural emissions due to the use of fertilizers, which produces ammonia.

The study, published in the journal Nature, details how millions of lives are cut short as a result of emissions of damaging microscopic particles present in the air which penetrate deep into the lungs.

As Alternet shares, researchers used computer models to estimate the health impacts of a range of outdoor air pollutants such as ozone and tiny particles less than 0.0025mm wide, which are known to exacerbate cardiovascular problems and lung disease.

A woman wearing a mask walk through a street covered by dense smog in Harbin, northern China. Credit: Kyodo News