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Global:Fossil fuel pollution causes one in five deaths

According to a study published on Tuesday, February 9, pollution from fossil fuels led to more than eight million premature deaths in 2018, or nearly one in every adult. five in the world.

The effects of air pollution are largely underestimated

According to the WHO, outdoor air pollution kills about 4.2 million people a year . However, this assessment would be greatly underestimated . To obtain these figures, the researchers relied on satellite data and surface readings to determine the concentrations of fine PM2.5 particles. However, these do not make it possible to determine the exact origin of these particles. They could come from the combustion of fossil fuels such as smoke from forest fires, for example.

In a recent study, the details of which are published in the journal Environmental Research, Joel Schwartz and his team at Harvard University's Chan School of Public Health refined this data using a 3D model of atmospheric chemistry dividing the Earth into blocks of 60 km by 50 km, coupled with CO2 emissions data from the various sectors and air circulation simulations from NASA.

Once the PM2.5 concentration was known, they looked at the health impact by developing a new risk model.

Eight million deaths

This work ultimately found that fine particulate matter released by the combustion of oil, gas and coal resulted in more than eight million premature deaths in 2018. This corresponds to 20% of deceased adults in the world. In other words, the balance sheet of the WHO is here almost doubled. Based on these last figures, then we can consider that air pollution kills every year about three times more than alcohol.

Of this sample of eight million premature deaths, half were recorded in China and India , with another million deaths evenly split between Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan and the United States.

Coronary heart disease and stroke are responsible for almost half of these deaths. Lung disease, diabetes and high blood pressure making up most of the rest.

Global:Fossil fuel pollution causes one in five deaths

A lifespan shortened by two years on average

Other important data:worldwide, air pollution shortens life by more than two years on average. The most affected continent remains Asia, where the average lifespan is reduced by 4.1 years in China, 3.9 years in India and 3.8 years in Pakistan. In Europe, life is on average eight months shorter .

We often discuss the dangers of burning fossil fuels in the context of climate change, but overlook the potential health impacts “, notes Joel Schwartz, lead author of the study. “The possibility of avoiding millions of premature deaths should be yet another reason to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the global shift from brown to green energy “.