Environmental News

Air Pollution Kills 5.5 Million People A Year

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Air Pollution is one of the world’s biggest killers, leading to 5.5 million premature deaths a year, according to a new report reviewed by the Washington Post. Scientists warn that the situation is set to worsen severely if action is not urgently taken.

The majority of these deaths occur in China and India – the countries with the dirtiest air in the world – however research shows that 300,000 people also die annually in the United States and Europe due to air pollution. Automobiles and industry are a significant contributor to this pollution, yet the main causes appear to be coal-fired power plants and burning of low-grade wood and fossil fuels in domestic situations. While the latter is a significant problem in India, China has made considerable progress in introducing legislation and encouraging a shift to the use of propane and natural gas. However Qiao Ma, a doctoral student at the School of Environment at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and a co-author of the report says that pollution from coal contributed to approximately 366,000 deaths in China in 2013 alone

Our study highlights the urgent need for even more aggressive strategies to reduce emissions from coal and from other sectors.

Dan Greenbaum, president of the Health Effects Institute in Boston says that “coal is by far the largest health burden, about 50 percent of the problem.” China’s air pollution is apparently still increasing and presents a health risk not only for the nation’s residents but also neighboring countries, with past studies demonstrating that Chinese emissions even contribute slightly to higher levels of pollution on the West Coast of the United States.

University of British Columbia professor Michael Brauer was quoted by Voice of America as having said that the fourth highest risk factor for death around the world is air pollution, which is “by far the leading environmental risk factor for disease.” Whereas the Washington Post reports that, globally, air and household pollution is second only to cigarette smoke as cause of death.

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