Air pollution reduces life expectancy more than war, diseases: Study

Global air pollution shortened life expectancy by an average of three years

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 04 March 2020
Global air pollution shortened life expectancy by an average of three years or 8.8 million premature deaths a year in 2015

A new study published by journal Cardiovascular Research on March 3, 2020, showed air pollution was responsible for cutting life expectancy on a scale greater than diseases, wars and other forms of violence. Researchers said the findings suggested the world faced an air pollution ‘pandemic’.

Global air pollution shortened life expectancy by an average of three years or 8.8 million premature deaths a year in 2015, according to the study.

Tobacco, by comparison, shortened life expectancy by an average of 2.2 years or 7.2 million deaths. HIV/AIDS reduced life expectancy by an average of 0.7 years (one million deaths), while diseases carried by parasites or insects shortened life expectancy by 0.6 years (600,000 deaths), according to the study.

All forms of violence — including war — cut life expectancy by 0.3 years (530,000 deaths).

The effects of air pollution were classified into six categories of disease: Heart disease, lung cancer, lower respiratory tract infection, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cerebrovascular disease leading to stroke and other non-communicable diseases, including diabetes and high blood pressure.

The greatest proportion of reduction in life expectancy was caused by cardiovascular diseases (43 per cent), according to the study.

The study also found air pollution to be responsible for 75 per cent of deaths of people above 60 years.

In another study — published in October 2019 — the life expectancy of those who lived in the Indo-Gangetic Plain in north India was seven years shorter than those who lived in other regions.

The analysis of Air Quality Life Index by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago found particulate pollution in the area was twice as much in the rest of the country.

Air pollution had shot up to 72 per cent in 2016 from 1998, a level that did not meet the World Health Organization’s guidelines for fine particulate pollution.

A five year-long National Clean Air Programme was launched in the country in 2019. The programme aims to reduce air pollution by 20-20 per cent.

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