Scientists revealed on March 3 that an air pollution pandemic shortens lives worldwide by nearly three years on an average resulting in 8.8 million premature deaths in a year. It shortens the lives of more people than smoking, malaria and HIV/AIDS, according to a study. The study which was published in the journal Cardiovascular Research, suggests that eliminating the toxic cocktail of molecules and lung-clogging caused by burning oil, gas and coal would restore a full year of life expectancy. Lead author Jos Lelieveld of the Max Planck Institute in Mainz, Germany reportedlt said that air pollution causes larger public health risk than tobacco smoking.
Lelieveld added that it can be avoided by replacing fossil fuels with clean renewable energy. The study found that as compared to other causes of premature death, air pollution kills 19 times more people each year than malaria, nine times more than HIV/AIDS, and three times more than alcohol. Senior author Thomas Munzel of the Max Planck Institute's departments of chemistry and cardiology said that their results highlight that there is an 'air pollution pandemic'. According to the study, the worst-hit region affected by air pollution is Asia, where the average lifespan is cut by 4.1 years in China, 3.9 years in India, and 3.8 years in Pakistan.
Exposure to air pollution for a long period of time increases the risk of respiratory and heart diseases. In their study, a team of researchers created a Global Exposure Mortality Model (GEMM) by taking information from other studies looking at the impacts of air pollution. Researchers also looked at the effects of air pollution on death rates using six categories relating to diseases. It is found that it includes lung cancer, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lower respiratory tract infection, and other non-communicable diseases. Cerebrovascular disease and heart disease were found to contribute for the biggest proportion of shortened lives from air pollution, making up 43 percent of the loss of life expectancy.