The number of people dying as a result of air pollution may exceed the number killed by smoking, a major new study suggests.
Beynelxalq.İnfo reports citing Independent.
German researchers estimate that as many as 8.8 million deaths per year globally can be attributed to dirty air.
In Europe alone they estimate there are more than 790,000 additional deaths as a result – double the previous estimate which did not properly account for the additional rates of cardiovascular disease.
“To put this into perspective, this means that air pollution causes more extra deaths a year than tobacco smoking, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates were responsible for an extra 7.2 million deaths in 2015,” said Professor Thomas Munzel, one of the authors from the University Medical Centre Mainz.
“Smoking is avoidable but air pollution is not.”
Fine sooty particles and nitrogen oxides (NOx) pumped out by car exhausts, factories, and power plants can form a damaging cocktail which significantly increases rates of heart attacks, strokes, and severe asthma attacks.
Regulators are looking to crack down on diesel cars in major cities as they are major producers of microscopic “PM2.5” particulates. These can contain heavy metals and other fuel chemicals which lodge in the lungs and enter the bloodstream.
The study, published in the European Heart Journal, used computer simulations of interacting natural and man-made chemicals combined with new information about population density, disease risk factors, and causes of death.
“Many other countries, such as Canada, the USA, and Australia, use the WHO guideline,” said Professor Munzel. “The EU is lagging a long way behind in this respect.”