Via The Guardian: Scientists: air pollution led to more than 5.5 million premature deaths in 2013. Excerpt:
Air pollution caused more than 5.5 million people to die prematurely in 2013, according to research presented on Friday, with more than half of those deaths in India and China and illnesses in those countries almost certain to rise.
According to scientists from the US, Canada, China and India, who presented their findings at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington DC, conditions caused by air pollution killed 1.6 million people in China and 1.4 million people in India in 2013.
“Air pollution is the fourth-highest risk factor for death globally and by far the leading environmental risk factor for disease,” said Michael Brauer, a researcher from the University of British Columbia.
Brauer said air pollution contributed to heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, bronchitis, emphysema and acute infections.
He and his colleagues compared the problem in Asia to the conditions under centuries of industrial revolution in the US and Europe: massive economic growth smothered by clouds of toxic matter in the air.
Coal pollution alone killed 366,000 people in China in 2013, according to researcher Qiao Ma. She said coal burned for electricity was the largest polluter in the country, and that China’s new targets to reduce emissions, agreed at the Paris climate talks last year, do not go far enough.
“Even in the most clean scenario in 2030,” Ma said, China’s growing and ageing population will still suffer 990,000 to 1.3 million deaths a year. Beijing, the city of her base at Tsinghua University, had its first “red alerts” for smog last year. By a separate study’s count, air pollution kills thousands every day.
“We think that more aggressive policies are urgently needed,” Ma said.
Researcher Chanda Venkataraman attributed the India’s high air pollution to coal, wood and dung fires, which send enormous amounts of ash and toxic particles into the homes of poor families.
About 920,000 deaths there were attributed to outdoor pollution, such as the particulate matter spread by power plants and vehicle emissions. About 590,000 deaths were attributed to household pollution: the emissions from burning for heating and cooking.