Air Pollution Killing More People Than Smoking-Scientists

  • Air Pollution Killing More People Than Smoking-Scientists

Air Pollution Killing More People Than Smoking-Scientists

During the same year an estimated 81,000 people were killed by air pollution in Italy, 67,000 in France and 58,000 in Poland.

Although it was previously thought that emissions were responsible for around 40,000 deaths in the United Kingdom, new figures suggest it is closer to 64,000, just 18 per cent less than the 78,000 deaths caused by tobacco.

The researchers used a model to simulate atmospheric chemical processes and "interactions with the hand, oceans and biosphere", according to the study, to determine the global exposure of the population to air pollution in the year 2015.

Using a new method of modelling the effects of various sources of outdoor air pollution on death rates, the researchers found that it caused an estimated 8.8 million extra deaths globally rather than the previously estimated 4.5 million, according to the study which appeared in the European Health Journal.

Air pollution causes more deaths globally than smoking and kills twice as many people as previously thought, including 64,000 a year in the United Kingdom, a study has found.

"Smoking is avoidable but air pollution is not".

Worldwide, air pollution was found to account for 120 extra deaths per 100,000 people per year.

In Germany, air pollution accounts for 154, Poland 150, and the United Kingdom 98 deaths reducing life expectancy by over two years. They applied these to a new model of global exposure and death rates and to data from the World Health Organization, which included information on population density, geographical locations, ages, risk factors for several diseases and causes of death.

"The high number of extra deaths caused by air pollution in Europe is explained by the combination of poor air quality and dense population, which leads to exposure that is among the highest in the world", Professor Jos Lelieveld, the study's co-author said. Authors of another study on pollution released previous year suggested that "fine particle air pollution is the largest environmental risk factor worldwide, responsible for a substantially larger number of attributable deaths than other more well-known behavioral risk factors such as alcohol use, physical inactivity, or high sodium intake".

The researchers said new data indicated the hazardous health effect of PM2.5 - the main cause of respiratory and cardiovascular disease - was much worse than previously thought.

"Governments and worldwide agencies must take urgent action to reduce air pollution", said Professor Thomas Münzel.

Findings for non-European countries will be published separately, he said.

Scientists recommend lowering the standard in the European Union, which is now 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air, and is 2.5 times higher than recommended by the WHO. Air pollution is known to cause such diseases, including increased blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart attacks and heart failure.

In the latest study, researchers urged world leaders to act swiftly to reduce air pollution, re-evaluate related legislation and switch to clean and renewable energy sources.

Controlling fine dust in the air by limiting agricultural emissions, responsible for emitting a considerable amount of fine particulate matter in the air, might help further reduce the aftermath of air pollution, researchers suggested.