More than 95% of Earth’s population breathing dangerously polluted air, finds study
More than 95% of the world’s population breathe unhealthy air and the poorest countries are at greater risk, a new report has found.
According to the annual State of Global Air Report, published Tuesday by the Health Effects Institute (HEI), long-term exposure to air pollution contributed to an estimated 6.1 million deaths across the globe in 2016.
The report says exposure to air pollution led to strokes, heart attacks, lung cancer and chronic lung disease, causing many of those premature deaths.
Air pollution is the fourth-highest cause of death among all health risks globally, coming in below high blood pressure, diet and smoking.
Bob O’Keefe, vice-president of the institute, said the gap between the most polluted air on the planet and the least polluted was striking. While developed countries have made moves to clean up, many developing countries have fallen further behind while seeking economic growth.
The problem is most acute in Asia, with India and China accounting for over half (51 per cent) of all global deaths from ambient air pollution.
Researchers found in China that coal-burning in industry, for power and for residential heating was the largest contributor to outdoor air pollution, followed by transport, residential biomass (solid fuel) burning, non-coal industry and open burning of agricultural land.
In India, the largest overall source of outdoor air pollution is from residential biomass burning, followed by coal-burning.