AUG 27, 2018 (BE2C2 Report): For the first time scientists have analyzed the effects of air pollution on life expectancy across Earth’s entire human population. The new research suggests particulate emissions shorten human lives by more than a year.
The research on impact of air pollution — both outside and inside houses — on life expectancy comes a little over a year after a WHO study indicated that only 8 percent of us are breathing safe air in Asia, Middle East and Africa. South Asia’s air pollution map in the WHO study showed large swathe of the region north and south of the equator colored in purple –meaning worst air pollution globally.
The new research report published a year later since then –by University of Texas, looked at PM2.5 pollution across the globe. Particulate matter measuring less than 2.5 microns across can be inhaled deep into the lungs. The pollution has been linked with a variety of human ailments, including lung disease, heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Globally, ambient PM2.5 pollution is associated with a population-weighted mean decrement in global life expectancy of 1.03 years, according to the study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas.
Factory smoke, car exhaust, fires and more contribute to PM2.5 pollution. Researchers looked at PM2.5 exposure in 185 countries. By measuring the link between particulate emissions and life expectancy in each country, researchers were able to estimate the effect of air pollution on global life expectancy.
The study indicates that among the 185 countries population-weighted median decrement in life expectancy from PM2.5 (ΔLE) was 1.22 years.
As shown in the Figure above, the life expectancy impact of ambient PM2.5 is especially large in polluted countries, such as Bangladesh (1.87 years), Egypt (1.85 years), Pakistan (1.56 years), India (1.53 years), Saudi Arabia (1.48 years), Nigeria (1.28 years), and China (1.25 years).
The average decrement in life expectancy in South Asia as shown in the figure is estimated to be 1.5 years –due yo PM2.5 air pollution.
“The fact that fine particle air pollution is a major global killer is already well known,” Joshua Apte, an assistant professor at Texas’ Cockrell School of Engineering, said in a news release. “And we all care about how long we live. Here, we were able to systematically identify how air pollution also substantially shortens lives around the world. What we found is that air pollution has a very large effect on survival — on average about a year globally.”
The WHO study shows around 3 million deaths globally are linked to air pollution from vehicles, power generation and industry. Indoor, the fatality from air pollution is 3.5 million. Together, outdoor and indoor air pollution were associated with the deaths of an estimated 6.5 million people worldwide in 2012. “That’s almost 12% of all global deaths – more than the number of people killed by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and road injuries combined”, according to WEF Agenda report.