Spikes in Air Pollution Claim Over 1 Million Lives Annually

A staggering new report reveals that more than one million deaths occur globally each year due to short-term exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in air pollution, with Eastern Asia reporting over 50% of these deaths. The Monash University study, published in The Lancet Planetary Health, analyzed mortality and PM2.5 levels in over 13,000 cities and towns worldwide between 2000 and 2019.

Unlike most studies that focus on the health impacts of consistently high pollution levels, this research examines the frequent “spikes” in air pollution that can impact smaller urban areas due to events like landscape fires, dust storms, and other intermittent extreme air-pollution events.

“To date most studies have focused on the health impacts of living in cities where pollution levels are consistently high, ignoring the frequent ‘spikes’ in pollution that can impact smaller urban areas,” said Professor Yuming Guo, the study’s lead author.

The findings reveal that breathing in PM2.5 for even a few hours to a few days results in more than one million premature deaths worldwide each year, with 22.74% occurring in urban areas. Asia accounted for approximately 65.2% of global mortality due to short-term PM2.5 exposure, followed by Africa (17.0%), Europe (12.1%), the Americas (5.6%), and Oceania (0.1%).

“But this is the first study to map the global impacts of these short bursts of air pollution exposure,” Guo added, noting that the mortality burden was highest in crowded, highly polluted areas in eastern Asia, southern Asia, and western Africa.

The study recommends implementing targeted interventions, such as air-pollution warning systems and community evacuation plans, to mitigate the acute health damages caused by transient exposure to high PM2.5 concentrations in areas most affected by acute air pollution.

#AirPollution #ParticulateMatter #EnvironmentalHealth #GlobalStudy

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