May 13, 2016

Outdoor air pollution is killing over 3 million per year and world air pollution increased by 8% from 2008 to 2013

Air pollution is a killer, and it’s getting worse.


  • All forms of air pollution is causing the premature death of ten million people per year
  • Outdoor air pollution increased by 8% from 2008 to 2013
  • Outdoor air pollution is still increasing and current trends would see it double by 2050
  • Air pollution levels in many cities in China and India is like forcing every baby, elderly person and people with asthma and lung disease to smoke 6 cigarettes per day. Everyone has to breath so every persons health is impacted who is in the area. Clearly the most vulnerable to air pollution succumb first. Life expectency is five years less in the half of China that has higher air pollution levels

According to a new study of over 3,000 cities around the world conducted by the World Health Organization, the amount of microscopic particle pollution increased 8 percent between 2008 and 2013. The findings were especially bad in low- and middle-income regions, where some 98 percent of cities don’t meet the WHO guidelines on air quality. In wealthy parts of the world, that figure is 56 percent.

Recent research shows that tiny particles of sulfur and nitrogen oxides, black carbon, and other pollutants [outdoor air pollution] contribute to the deaths of over three million people each year around the world. The particles, which get more hazardous the smaller they are, can lodge deep in the lungs or pass into the bloodstream, contributing to asthma, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. A recent study in Nature suggested that under a business-as-usual scenario, the global health burden of this kind of air pollution could double by 2050.


Some studies indicate the combined premature deaths from indoor, outdoor air pollution is ten million per year.


The effects of particle pollutants killed 3.15 million individuals in 2010, with strokes (cerebrovascular disease) and heart attacks (ischemic heart disease) contributing most heavily. Analysis of ozone related mortality revealed a total estimate of 3.30 million people dying prematurely in 2010. An additional 3.54 million deaths per year are attributed to indoor air pollution caused by the use of solid fuels such as coal. Combined indoor and outdoor air pollution deaths would then be 10 million per year. Air quality had gotten worse from 2010 to 2015.


WHO’s Air quality guidelines offer global guidance on thresholds and limits for key air pollutants that pose health risks. The Guidelines indicate that by reducing particulate matter (PM10) pollution from 70 to 20 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m), air pollution-related deaths could be reduced by roughly 15%.

  • In general, urban air pollution levels were lowest in high-income countries, with lower levels most prevalent in Europe, the Americas, and the Western Pacific Region.
  • The highest urban air pollution levels were experienced in low-and middle-income countries in WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean and South-East Asia Regions, with annual mean levels often exceeding 5-10 times WHO limits, followed by low-income cities in the Western Pacific Region.
  • In the Eastern Mediterranean and South-East Asia Regions and low-income countries in the Western Pacific Region, levels of urban air pollution has increased by more than 5% in more than two-thirds of the cities.
  • In the African Region urban air pollution data remains very sparse, however available data revealed particulate matter (PM) levels above the median. The database now contains PM measurements for more than twice as many cities than previous versions.

MIT Technology Review article noted the millions of deaths from air pollution but worried that stopping it would increase warming

Soot does absorb more light which has a large warming effect. Removing the soot and particulates will save millions of lives and reduce the light absorbing warming effect.

If people are concerned about the airborne cooling effect of some reflective particles, then replace those particles with other cooling particles that do not cause millions of deaths.

But some will say, we will be experimenting with the environment.

What do we think putting billions of tons of particulates into the atmosphere every year for many decades is ? It is a side effect of energy and transporation technology that is an experiment with our atmosphere and environment.

Not doing something about the air pollution deaths is like delaying stopping World War 2 because there was a cooling effect from burning millions of people in the concentration camps.




SOURCES - MIT Technology Review, World Health Organization

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