Death by air pollution

Public Health

19 Apr 2017

Long-term exposure to fine air particles caused 4.2 million deaths and over 103 million lost years of healthy life in 2015, a global report of pollution levels over a quarter of a century shows.

According to the report published in The Lancet PM2·5 caused an estimated 7·6% of total global mortality in 2015 and was the fifth-ranking global mortality risk factor. Exposure to ozone caused an additional 254 000 deaths.

Deaths attributable to long-term exposure to PM2·5 varied substantially among countries, the report revealed.

South and east Asia contributed 59% of the 4·2 million global deaths attributable to ambient PM2·5  whereas in World Bank higher income countries exposure to ambient PM2·5 contributed to 4·3% of total deaths.

“Ambient air pollution contributes substantially to the global burden of disease, which has increased over the past 25 years, as a result of both demographic and epidemiological trends and increasing levels of air pollution in low-income and middle-income countries” the researchers wrote in the paper published in The Lancet.

“Should these trends continue, major reductions in pollution levels will be needed to avoid increases in disease burden,” it concluded.

Meanwhile, a study published in Nature found that find that, of the 3.45 million premature deaths related to PM2.5 pollution in 2007 worldwide, about 12 per cent (411,100 deaths) were related to air pollutants emitted in a region of the world other than that in which the death occurred, and about 22 per cent (762,400 deaths) were associated with goods and services produced in one region for consumption in another.

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