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Death Due to Air Pollution on the Rise Globally

Despite efforts to clean up cars, problems still exist.

by on Mar.26, 2014

Traffic congestion has become a major challenge in China reducing air quality.

A new report from the World Health Organization gives everyone new reasons to be concerned when they see a traffic-induced haze hovering over a large city. The organization estimates one of every eight deaths around the world can be traced back to exposure to air pollution.

The group, also known as WHO, estimates that in 2012 roughly 7 million people died as a result of air pollution exposure. The report doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk. “Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives,” according to the report.

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Cities such as Beijing, Moscow and Mexico City have long been infamous for poor air quality linked to heavy traffic. But even Paris, which is covered by Western Europe’s relatively strict pollution controls, has had serious trouble with air pollution in recent weeks.

The report may provide some leverage to regulators such as the California Air Resources Board, which is demanding on tougher standards on motor vehicles, and provide some additional impetus to the introduction of electric vehicles – particularly EVs that can use electricity from power plants running on natural gas

New data revealed a stronger link between indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and heart disease as well as cancer. This is in addition to air pollution’s role in the development of respiratory diseases, including acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, the report said.

The revised estimates are based on new knowledge about the diseases caused by air pollution and better assessment of human exposure to air pollutants through the use of improved measurements and technology.

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Regionally, low- and middle-income countries in the WHO Southeast Asia and Western Pacific regions had the largest air pollution-related burden in 2012, with a total of 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths related to outdoor air pollution.

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“The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes,” says Dr. Maria Neira, director of WHO’s Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.”

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The new estimate is explained by better information about pollution exposures among the estimated 2.9 billion people living in homes using wood, coal or dung as their primary cooking fuel. In the case of outdoor air pollution, WHO estimates there were 3.7 million deaths in 2012 from urban and rural sources worldwide.

Many people are exposed to both indoor and outdoor air pollution. Due to this overlap, mortality attributed to the two sources cannot simply be added together, hence the total estimate of around 7 million deaths in 2012.

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2 Responses to “Death Due to Air Pollution on the Rise Globally”

  1. Jorge M. says:

    Show me actual statistics not pie-in-the-sky estimates.

  2. BISENTO says:

    Top 10 ways to stop smog.

    10. Ride a horse.
    9. Stop breeding.
    8. Public transport (if you can get one).
    7. Car pool with someone who might actually care.
    6. Don’t go to work.
    5. Move out of town.
    4. Have a smog party until everyone is smogged out.
    3. Buy smogged ham from your local butcher.
    2. Install smog alarms in your home.
    1. My car runs on smog.