Air pollution kills more people than malaria or smoking

Polluted air is a public health hazard that cannot be avoided.

It is widely known that long-term exposureair pollution increases the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Chemistry and the University of Mainz Medical Center in a new study calculated that the overall expected reduction in life expectancy due to air pollution is higher than from many other risk factors such as smoking, infectious diseases or violence.

In 2015, air pollution caused 8.8 millioncases of premature death worldwide. This corresponds to an average decrease in life expectancy per capita of 2.9 years. For comparison: smoking reduces life expectancy by an average of 2.2 years (7.2 million deaths), HIV / AIDS by 0.7 years (1 million deaths), parasitic and vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, by 0.6 years (600,000 deaths).

“Air pollution surpasses malaria asthe cause of premature death is 19 times. It exceeds death from the consequences of violence by 17 times, and from HIV / AIDS by 9 times. Taking into account the enormous impact on public health and the world's population, we can say that our results indicate a pandemic of air pollution. ”

Jos Leliveld, director of the Max Planck Institute of Chemistry, author of the study.

This is the first study where so deepstudied the effect on air pollution on human health compared with other risk factors around the world. This comparison of various global risk factors shows that air pollution is the main cause of premature mortality and loss of life expectancy, in particular due to cardiovascular disease.

Scientists have investigated the relationship between exposurepollutants and the occurrence of diseases. To calculate the effects of pollutants around the world, which primarily include small particles and ozone, the researchers used an atmospheric chemical regime. They then combined exposure data with a global mortality exposure model from many epidemiological cohort studies. Using these tools and data, scientists investigated the effects of various sources of pollution, distinguishing between natural (forest fires, aeolian dust) and anthropogenic emissions, including the use of fossil fuels. Based on their results, they estimated the excess mortality from a specific disease and life expectancy in all countries of the world.

The results of the study show thatair pollution mortality is highest in East Asia (35%) and South Asia (32%), followed by Africa (11%), Europe (9%) and North and South America (6%) . Australia has the lowest mortality rates (1.5%) due to the most stringent air quality standards in all countries.

“We more and more understand that smallparticles contribute to vascular damage and thus to diseases - heart attack, stroke, arrhythmia and heart failure. "It is imperative that air pollution is considered a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and that it is clearly mentioned in the ESC / AHA recommendations for the prevention of acute and coronary syndromes and heart failure."

Thomas Münzel, director of the cardiology center at the University Medical Center in Mainz, co-author of the article.

According to the study, almost twoA third of the deaths caused by air pollution, namely about 5.5 million a year, can be avoided because most of the polluted air comes from the use of fossil fuels. According to researchers, the average life expectancy in the world will increase by more than a year if emissions from the use of fossil fuels are eliminated.

Team from the University Medical CenterMainz and the Max Planck Institute of Chemistry last year published a similar paper on the effects of air pollution in Europe. According to an earlier study, around 800,000 Europeans die prematurely each year due to diseases caused by air pollution. Polluted air reduces the life expectancy of Europeans by more than two years.