New research says that air pollution causes over 5.5 million premature worldwide deaths every year.
According to data compiled by World Health Organization’s Global Burden of Disease project, a great number of air pollution-related deaths occur mostly in India and China. These two nations are among the fastest growing economies in the world; this is according to reports. Further revelations from the data indicate that tiny particles’ emissions from factories, vehicle exhausts, power plants, burning wood and coal largely contribute to air pollution- caused deaths.
Air pollution is rated fourth among greatest death risk factors globally
The researchers further say that global nations still have a lot to do in terms of creating a conducive atmosphere for their respective citizens. Dan Greenbaum of Boston’s Health Effects Institute in the U.S. argues that Beijing or even Delhi records 300 micrograms per cubic meter of fine particles in a given “bad air pollution day”. According to Greenbaum, this figure should read between 25 and 35 micrograms.
Cancer, heart-related diseases and respiratory illnesses risks’ can be catapulted by breathing in very small particles. The study also reveals that air pollution is the fourth greatest death risk factor and the leading risk factor for environmental-related diseases. Other leading death risk factors include smoking, dietary issues and high blood pressure.
Further insight into the report
As from 2013, reliable data indicates that around 1.3 and 1.6 million deaths occur in India and China respectively. The main sources of pollution, however, slightly differ in each country. For instance, coal burning is the key source of air pollution causative agent in China. This alone accounts for over 360,000annual deaths in this nation.
With control measures in place to combat future emissions, China still has an uphill task with the growing aging population which is most vulnerable to air pollution-related deaths. On the other side, India faces the problem of combustion of crop residues, dung, wood and other materials for heating and cooking. This translates to a “more-confined” air pollution which is perceived as even more dangerous.
What is the way forward?
These findings revealed at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting, concluded that nations need to do more regarding air pollution. According to the University of British Columbia’s Michael Brauer, governments should improve and strictly implement anti-pollution strategies. He argues that United States’ expenditure on air-pollution prevention policies actually produces results. Brauer says that a dollar spent in the U.S. on air pollution measures yields an average benefit of $ 4 to $ 30 in the heath domain.