advertisement

Follow Mint Lounge

Latest Issue

Home > Health> Wellness > Exposure to short-term air pollution causes one million deaths annually: Study

Exposure to short-term air pollution causes one million deaths annually: Study

Breathing fine particulate matter for a few hours or days causes more than one million premature deaths annually across the world, new study finds

The new study showed that Asia accounted for around 65.2% of global mortality due to short-term PM2.5 exposure.
The new study showed that Asia accounted for around 65.2% of global mortality due to short-term PM2.5 exposure. (Pixabay)

Exposure to short-term fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in air pollution causes more than one million deaths occurring worldwide every year, according to a new report. Notably, eastern Asia has reported more than half of these deaths.

For the study, researchers from Monash University examined mortality and pollution levels of PM2.5 in more than 13,000 cities and towns across the globe in the two decades to 2019. Previous studies have looked at the health impact of long-term exposure to air pollution, but this study is the first to look at short-term exposure globally, the researchers pointed out in the university’s press statement.

Also read: Exposure to air pollution is linked to increase in sedentary behaviour: Study

The findings, published in The Lancet Planetary Health, showed that breathing in PM2.5 for a few hours or days, results in more than one million premature deaths annually across the world, specifically in Asia and Africa. The study highlighted that more than a fifth (22.74%) of these deaths occurred in urban areas.

According to the researchers, the short-term health effects of exposure to air pollution have been well documented. For instance, the bushfires in Australia in 2019–20 were estimated to have led to 429 smoke-related premature deaths and 3,230 hospital admissions because of acute and persistent exposure to extremely high levels of air pollution. However, the new study is the first to map the global impacts of short bursts of exposure to air pollution, the researchers explained in the statement.

The study showed that Asia accounted for around 65.2% of global mortality due to short-term PM2.5 exposure, followed by Africa with 17% and Europe with 12.1%. The mortality burden was highest in, highly polluted areas in eastern Asia, southern Asia, and western Africa. Worryingly, the fraction of deaths resulting from short-term PM2.5 exposure in eastern Asia was over 50% higher than the global average.

Previous reports have also highlighted the severe health impacts caused by PM 2.5 in India. For instance, in August 2023, the University of Chicago's annual Air Quality Life Index report warned that air pollution is the biggest threat to life expectancy in India where particulate pollution reduces life expectancy by 5.3 years of the average Indian.

Implementing targeted interventions such as air-pollution warning systems and community evacuation plans to avoid transient exposure to high PM2.5 concentration could reduce its impact on health, the new study suggests.

Also read: If Delhi’s air was clean, each of its residents would live 11.9 years longer

Next Story