LivingAir pollution causes more deaths per year than tobacco

Air pollution causes more deaths per year than tobacco

Air pollution is the new tobacco . There’s no question in light of the data revealed by the latest European Heart Journal study: the number of premature deaths caused by air pollution is double previous estimates, meaning toxic air is killing people. more people than smoking tobacco.

The scientists used new data to estimate that about 800,000 people die prematurely each year in Europe due to air pollution, and that each life is shortened by an average of more than two years. The damage to health caused by air pollution in Europe is higher than the world average. Our dense population and – poor – air result in exposure that is among the highest in the world.

The new research indicates that while air pollution affects the lungs first, its impact through the bloodstream on heart disease and stroke is responsible for twice as many deaths as respiratory diseases.

Double the deaths

The analysis builds on research published in September and confirms that the estimate of 8.8 million early deaths per year from outdoor air pollution worldwide is double previous estimates.

“Since most air pollutants come from the burning of fossil fuels, we must switch to other energy sources urgently. When we use clean and renewable energy, we are not only complying with the Paris agreement to mitigate the effects of climate change, we can also reduce death rates related to air pollution by up to 55% “, explains Jos Lelieveld, of the Institute Max-Plank of Chemistry in Mainz and co-author of the work.

The data

The new research combined three data sets : exposure to air pollution, population density and age, and the health consequences of toxic air. And a much higher number of premature deaths was obtained because better data are now available on the health side effects of air pollution.

By countries

Estimates of early deaths varied significantly between countries.

In Germany, there were 154 new deaths per 100,000 people, with an average reduction of 2.4 years in life expectancy.

In the UK , there were 98 deaths per 100,000 and a 1.5-year cut in lifespan.

In France, 105 new deaths per 100,000 people.

In Italy, 136 deaths per 100,000 people.

In Spain , figures similar to those of France and only some cities such as Madrid or Barcelona would be at the same level as Germany.

The worst data

They are found in Eastern Europe, with Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Ukraine, with more than 200 new deaths per year per 100,000 inhabitants.

Professor Metin Avkiran from the British Heart Foundation commented that: “Air pollution is clearly a big problem across Europe”.

Scientists acknowledge that there are large uncertainties in their early death estimates for Europe, as some deaths may have been misattributed to air pollution, but it is highly likely that the true number of deaths may be even higher, the study authors state. .

No childhood data

The effects of air pollution on child deaths were not included, because the evidence is not yet as strong as for adults.

Breathing polluted air

In 2018, the results of the Health Effects Institute (HEI) State of Global Air Report already revealed that 7 billion people, more than 95% of the entire planet’s population, were breathing air containing unhealthy levels of pollution. And not only that: 60% of the world’s population lived in areas that didn’t even meet the most basic air quality standards.

Causes of death

Already become the leading cause of death in the world, this materializes in the form of: strokes, heart attacks, lung cancer and chronic lung disease.

What Causes Air Pollution?

Air pollution can come from both human and natural actions. Natural events that pollute the air include forest fires, volcanic eruptions, wind erosion, pollen dispersal, evaporation of organic compounds, and natural radioactivity. Pollution by natural events is not very frequent.

Human activities that lead to air pollution include: emissions from industries and manufacturing activities, burning of fossil fuels and household and agricultural chemicals (crops, house fumigation, insect / pest reduction, fertilizers … .)

Referencia: Cardiovascular disease burden from ambient air pollution in Europe reassessed using novel hazard ratio functions European Heart Journal, ehz135, DOI:


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