Deaths from pollution, twice as much as expected

Deaths from pollution, twice as much as expected

Dead from pollution, the numbers are double compared to analysts’ worst estimates: a new study reveals.

The death rate per pollution it reached double figures compared to the worst forecasts of analysts, reaching share 8 million of people in 2018. This is revealed by a new study conducted by Harvard University, the University of Birmingham, the University of Leicester and University College London. Southeast Asia, North America and parts of Europe are most affected.

In particular, the increase in pollutants in the atmosphere – such as dangerous ones PM 2.5 – have increased respiratory diseases all over the world, especially extremely severe forms of asthma. Those most responsible for the spread of these contaminants are i fossil fuels, used both for transport and for heating homes or energy production.

Deaths from pollution, record figures

The study, published in the scientific journal Environmental Research, found that exposure to fine particulate matter is responsible for 18% of all deaths worldwide, equal to 8.7 million people in 2018. A figure even double compared to the estimates made by previous studies: in 2019, in fact, the mathematical models had predicted “only” 4.2 million deaths.

Researchers have developed an integrated system to compare the number of deaths with the pollution levels of different parts of the world. In particular, they have come up with a global 3D model which, using satellite maps and ground-based data on PM 2.5 levels, highlighted the most affected areas of the planet. After that, the globe was divided into a grid with 50 × 60 kilometers cells, to make the detections even more targeted. Finally, the data on pollution were compared to the number of deaths from respiratory problems recorded in each single cell.

The study highlighted how China, India, the United States, part of Europe and all of the Southeast Asia are the most affected areas in the world. Central and South Asia globally reaches levels of 30.7% of deaths from pollution, East Asia 16.8% and Europe 13.1%. The figure is so high for many Asian nations because, in addition to the use of fossil fuels for transport and heating, fires are often lit for waste disposal or the elimination of plastic.

The researchers point out that, if the objectives of the Paris Agreements, 6.4 million lives could be saved every year by improving nutrition, 1.6 million by reducing environmental pollutants and 2.1 million by stimulating healthier lifestyles. However, a renunciation of fossil fuels is needed as soon as possible:

In good conscience we can no longer rely on fossil fuels, by now we are well aware of the serious effects they have on health and today we already have safer, cleaner and more viable alternatives.

Source: CNN

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