A staggering 3.3 million deaths yearly linked to air pollution across the globe, with the majority of deaths being registered in Asia are revealed in a new study.
Scientists with the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz-Germany found that air contamination with ozone, as well as other fine particles is linked to an increasing number of deaths due to heart disease, lung diseases, including lung cancer and respiratory issues.
According to their model, the 3.3 million deaths yearly linked to air pollution could well double by 2050 unless efforts to curb air pollution across the globe aren’t stepped up.
More alarming is the fact that the 3.3 million deaths yearly linked to air pollution could be in fact many more. The results of the model are based on available data from countries that monitor air quality and keep thorough medical databases on patients.
Nonetheless, 3.3 million people dying due to air pollution should be regarded as an alarm signal. The majority of cases are reported in Asia, with India and China leading the list. Here, emissions stemming from residential use of energy, such as cooking and heating, both in the rural and in the urban regions have taken their toll.
Jos Lelieveld of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry stated:
“This is an astounding number. In some countries air pollution is actually a leading cause of death, and in many countries it is a major issue”.
The study was conducted using a global atmospheric chemistry model that includes health statistics and population data. Also, all particles present in the air are assumed equally toxic, while a differential toxicity study to account for sensitivity.
The results are the ones stated above. Air pollution, particularly with fine particles leads to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, strokes and heart disease, as well as acute respiratory infections.
In India and China, air pollution takes the greatest toll on human lives. While air pollution stemming from cooking and heating is prevalent here, in the U.S. and a few other states where data could be retrieved, power generation based on fossil fuels and transport account for the majority of pollutants in the air. However, eastern U.S., East Asia, Russia and Europe face a different threat, stemming from agricultural emissions.
Oliver Wild, who is an atmospheric scientist with Lancaster University, U.K, concluded that the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry study brings home a pressing need to monitor air quality worldwide and take measure to curb the toll on human lives and the environment.
Photo Credits: Flickr