Fossil fuel air pollution causes nearly 1 in 5 deaths worldwide each year

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Every year more than 8 million people worldwide die from breathing polluted air Particles contain off Fossil fuel emissions – a significantly higher number than previously assumed. The astonishing number is responsible for almost one in five deaths in 2018.

According to new research from Harvard University and three UK universities published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Research, exposure to particulates is from burning fossil fuels like coal and oil, accounted for 18% of global deaths in 2018 – a total of 8.7 million.

The researchers found that regions with the highest levels of fossil fuel pollution had the highest mortality rates. These regions include Eastern North America, Europe, and Southeast Asia, including China and India.

“Our study adds to the growing evidence that air pollution is adversely affecting global health from continued reliance on fossil fuels,” study co-author Eloise Marais said in a Explanation. “We cannot continue to rely on fossil fuels with good conscience knowing that there are such serious health implications and viable, cleaner alternatives.”

The results almost double the total number of deaths compared to previous research.

The world’s largest and most comprehensive study of the causes of death put the total number of annual deaths from particulate matter in the air at just 4.2 million. Previous research relied on satellite and surface observations that failed to tell the difference between particles from fossil fuels and particles from dust. Forest fires and other sources.

“With satellite data, you only see pieces of the puzzle,” said co-author Loretta J. Mickley. “It is a challenge for satellites to differentiate between particle types and there can be gaps in the data.”

Global emissions are expected to decrease by 8% during the pandemic

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Produce burning fossil fuels Greenhouse gasesthat capture the solar radiation that is partly responsible for the climate crisis. But it also produces a “toxic cocktail” of tiny particles that can get into our lungs and cause asthma, lung cancer, coronary artery disease and early death, among other things.

Researchers analyzed these particles, known as PM2.5, from a variety of sectors including power plants, planes, automobiles, and other sources. They used a global 3D model that can distinguish between different sources of pollution to determine exactly what people are breathing in which regions.

They found that 30.7% of deaths in East Asia, 16.8% in Europe, and 13.1% in the US are from fossil fuel pollution.

The researchers said the results highlight the critical importance of policy making.

“When we talk about the dangers of burning fossil fuels, it often happens in the context of CO2 and climate change, and overlooks the potential health effects of pollutants that are emitted along with greenhouse gases,” said co-author Joel Schwartz. “We hope that by quantifying the health impacts of fossil fuel burning, we can send a clear message to policy makers and stakeholders about the benefits of moving to alternative energy sources.”

Researchers found that when China cut its Fossil fuel emissions In 2018, it saved almost half and saved 2.4 million lives worldwide, including 1.5 million in China alone.

Air pollution has also been linked to more deaths from COVID-19. The The air became cleaner in 2020 thanks to the pandemic, in large part because of the significant decline in transportation; However, experts are skeptical that the benefits will persist after the pandemic.

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