A new worrying statistic has drawn the attention of both scientists and environmentalists, when the death count due to air pollution reached 3.3 million per year around the entire world. The disturbing numbers bring to attention the need for cleaner air and the urgent issues yet unaddressed around Asian countries, where the numbers are the highest.
- In-home heating and cooking is the biggest contributor to air pollution worldwide
- Air pollution due to agriculture held second place with over 660,000 deaths per year
- The most polluted country is China, followed by India and Pakistan
- The United States rank on 7th place where it regards air pollution
Researchers from Germany, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, and from Harvard University in the United States have crunched the numbers and reached to a total 3.3 million annual deaths due to air pollution, with almost 75% of them caused by heart attacks or strokes, according to Jos Lelieveld who is lead author of the study, and a professor at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry.
Around 6% of the world’s yearly total death count is caused by poor air quality that further branches out in multiple diseases that leads to their bodies prematurely shutting down. According to Jason West from the University of North Carolina, who wasn’t affiliated with the study, these numbers are higher than they were expected to be 10 years ago.
Across the board, it seems China has the most disturbing count, with 1.4 million deaths caused by air pollution each year. The situation seems harsher in Asia, as it’s followed closely by India on second place with 645,000 deaths, and then Pakistan with 110,000. The number one cause of the poor air quality in the first two countries seems to be gas emissions from heating and cooking.
The United States, however, see a bit of a different statistic. They rank on 7th place worldwide with the highest air pollution death, with 54,905 deaths recorded per year from soot and smog. The most common blame for poor air qualities are power plants, that kill an estimated 16,929 people per year, followed closely by agriculture with 16,221 deaths.
The high levels of ammonia that lift to the sky due to animal feces and fertilizers combine with sulfates from power plants and car exhausts that form soot particles and then further pollute the air. According to Lelieveld, scientists had expected that traffic and power plants to be the biggest culprits when it concerns worldwide deaths in air pollution, but their assumptions were wrong.
The number one killer are gas emissions from in-home heating and cooking with either wood or other types of fuels, claiming over 1 million lives each year. The second place goes, surprisingly, to agriculture with 664,100 annual deaths, becoming an increasingly grave problem due to mild regulations.
And, according to experts, it can be fixed at a “relatively low cost” if we do not want to problem to continue. If they do, however, estimations have it that the death count will double by 2050 to 6.6 million, in the case that we do not take measures to improve the quality of our air.
Image source: natura-sciences.com