95% Of World Population Breathing Polluted Air: Study
A new study indicates that nearly all of the world’s population is breathing polluted air, and most who are affected the worst live in poor regions, particularly in Asia and Africa.
According to research from the State of Global Air 2018 report, long-term air pollution exposure contributed to more than 6.1 million deaths worldwide. The report concluded air pollution is the fourth highest cause of death among all health risks globally, behind high blood pressure, smoking, and diet.
The new report draws data from the Global Burden of Disease project, as well as other sources, indicating that 95% of the global population is regularly exposed to pollution.
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Researchers point out that exposure to air pollution has lasting long-term effects, such as increased rates of heart problems. Other studies indicate air pollution increases the risk of stroke, lung cancer, chronic lung disease, damage to blood vessels, heightens the risk of early death, and accelerates aging in children.
The new report revealed air pollution generated by China and India is responsible for more than 50% of deaths globally. In fact, India now rivals China for deaths attributable to outdoor air pollution, with 1.1 million deaths in 2016 alone.
Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India all had steep increases in air pollution levels since 2010 as well.
The study also focused on burning solid fuels within the home for cooking and heating. This contributes to indoor air pollution and affects one in three citizens globally, or 2.5 billion people.
However, the number of people relying on solid fuels dropped from 3.6 billion in 1990 to 2.5 billion in 2016.
Indoor air pollution is primarily created from the burning of solid fuels, like wood and charcoal. Most people who rely on these fuels also live in low- and middle-income nations.
These nations, mostly located in Asia and Africa, are affected by air pollution both inside and outside the home.
The combined exposure of air pollution, both indoors and outdoors, led to one in four deaths in India and one in five deaths in China.
Other reports indicate more than 153 million lives can be saved by reducing air pollution.
Researchers warn that reducing air pollution requires a focus on “identifying and taking action to control the major sources that contribute” to the pollutants. Thus, actions to address pollution should focus on large scale coal burning power plants, as well as solid fuel burning in homes in middle and low income nations.
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