Scientists have found air with contaminates, such as ozone, and tiny particles cause about 3.3 million premature deaths per year. Approximately 75 per cent of deaths are occurring in Asia, according to the study.
Researchers say if nothing was done about it, the death toll could double over the next 35 years. The deaths are from two main pollutants, which are PM2.5s (fine particulates), and nitrogen dioxide (a toxic gas). Diesel cars, lorries, and buses all produce these pollutants.
Watch this TEDx presentation on the global air pollution pandemic:
Jos Lelieveld of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany, who led the research said: “This is an astounding number,” adding that “in some counties air pollution is actually a leading cause of death, and in many countries it is a major issue.”
Can air pollution make you dumber?
In the study published in the journal Nature, researchers found the pollutants affect a person’s growth, and lung capacity.
Pollutants are also linked to serious diseases with long-term health impacts.
Examples include lung cancer, and heart disease.
According to Reuters, air pollution deaths are most commonly from heart disease, strokes or a type of lung disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is also linked to deaths from lung cancer, and acute respiratory infections.
Strokes, and heart attacks are responsible for nearly 75 per cent of air pollution-related mortality — a “little over 25 per cent is related to respiratory disease, and lung cancer,” according to Live Science.
Scientists have found calculating the effects on a global scale to be challenging because, in some regions, the air quality was not monitored. They also found that where it was monitored, the toxicity of particles varied depending on their source.
This NASA animation shows Asian air pollution moving across the globe:
However, very large increases in deaths are expected in South Asia, and East Asia — and the yearly global death toll from air pollution could reach 6.6 million people in 2050, Lelieveld told Live Science.
According to the International Business Times: “If this growing premature mortality by air pollution is to be avoided, intensive air quality control measures will be needed, particularly in South, and East Asia.”
“Our study shows that it is particularly important to reduce pollution emissions from residential energy use in Asia. By reducing agricultural emissions, air quality would also improve, especially in Europe, the Eastern U.S.A., and in Eastern Asia,” Lelieveld said.