We know that air pollution affects our health in unimaginable ways and it can even kill us on the long term. A recent study now reveals that pollution is responsible for three million deaths all over the world every year.
A team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany carried out a study that shows how air pollutants can affect our health very severely, because they get into our lungs while we inhale.
Thus, particles whose diameter is less than 2.5 micrometers large, which are also called PM2.5 lead to the death of 3.2 million people. The most worrying aspect is that experts predict the number is going to double by 2050.
Obviously, developing countries are the most affected ones, because the air tends to be extremely polluted in these areas. In China, where the cities are overpopulated and heavy industry is constantly affecting the quality of air, about 1.36 million people die every year, representing 40 percent of the whole number of premature deaths associated to air contamination.
This is mostly due to the massive use of solid fuel such as biomass and coal for cooking and heating, as well as to the disposal of waste and diesel generators.
Power generation, traffic and farming practices also contribute to the high number of premature deaths, especially in the United States, Europe, East Asia and Russia.
As far as Australia is concerned, experts say the air tends to be much cleaner than in other parts of the world and pollution is responsible for only 280 deaths every year, according to lead study author Professor Jos Lelieveld, who is the chief of the Atmospheric Chemistry Department at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany.
In order to determine the impact air pollution has on early deaths, the researchers employed a global atmospheric chemistry model which was combined with health statistics and population data.
It is needless to say that experts recommend countries that are mostly at risk to switch to much cleaner sources of electricity and fuels.
“This study is further demonstration of the need to adopt policies and legislation which help to minimize air pollution from all sources, particularly fine particles. Different approaches will be required to tackle the sources of fine particles in different regions of the world,” said Professor Bin Jalaludin and Dr. Christine Cowie from the University of South Wales, in a joint statement.
The results of the study were published in the journal Nature.
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