Air Pollution Causes Deaths Globally

air pollution

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Imagine you were asked to rate the following things in relation to their negative impact on your health; smoking, drugs, alcohol, air pollution. And what if you had to rank death rates from this list of causes; HIV, malaria, car crashes, air pollution. I would hazard a guess that pollution would not be at the top of your list, right? However according to various studies it should be.

Pollution is any contaminate in the environment that should not be there, for the most part, pollution has occurred due to the actions of human beings. We all hear about ‘saving the environment’ and ‘being greener’ but do we really know why it is important? Pollution is usually cited as being ‘bad’ for the environment, and we probably take this to mean damage to the ozone layer, pollution in the sea or the air, overflowing landfills etc. These things all seem abstract, a little removed from us and easy to ignore, but we rarely consider what the actual implications of this are. The bare truth is that pollution is killing people, many people, every year, and doing your bit for the environment really could help.

A 2008 study found that air pollution killed more people in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley, than the number of people killed in car crashes in the same regions. Hard to believe right? I bet you’d be even more surprised if you knew that air pollution kills more people every year that HIV and malaria, combined.

A study published in the Environmental Research Letters journal claims that 2.5 million deaths a year are caused by pollution worldwide- that’s the same as the population of Toronto. Of these, 1.95 million die from cardiopulmonary diseases caused by pollution. In Europe alone around 190,000 die each year.

Research carried out by the British Heart Foundation also concluded that pollution is a factor in heart failure, as well as the already well-documented cause of heart attacks. It is making those susceptible to heart failure even more at risk, simply by breathing in our air.

Pollution isn’t just a killer in the infamous pollution rife countries such as China and the United States, it is also causing deaths in smaller countries where you wouldn’t necessarily envisage a pollution issue, countries known for their countryside, such as Germany and the United Kingdom.

In 1990, deaths from pollution globally were estimated at 800,000. The increase to the 2.5 million figure we see today is cause for concern, and will only keep growing if we don’t act now.

Pollution isn’t just affecting the old or infirm, or under developed countries. It is affecting people like you and me, our parents, our siblings and our children. As respiratory issues rise alongside pollution we should all fear for our health, right here, right now and vow to do something about it. Next time you’re filling up the car or forget the recycling why not take a moment to consider what your health is worth to you, and how you may be able to help protect it just by doing your bit for the environment.


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