Air Pollution and Health
A recent study from the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health has established that the annual death toll from environmental pollution is approximately 9 million persons, or 16% of worldwide deaths, each year. This number goes beyond the amount of deaths arising from war fatalities, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Strikingly, more than half of those casualties are caused by air pollution.
In a collaborative research project, the WHO and the Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago developed the Air Quality-Life Index (AQLI) aimed at measuring the impact of air pollution on life expectancy. The findings were quite chilling: in heavily polluted regions such as Eastern China or Northern India, a person’s lifespan can be shortened by an average of three-four years; in cities like Beijing, Tianjin or New Delhi life expectancy reduction was more like 10 years.
Major outdoor pollution sources include vehicles, power generators, building heating systems, agriculture/waste incinerators and heavy industry. In addition, more than 3 billion people worldwide rely on polluting technologies and fuels (including biomass, coal and kerosene) for household cooking, heating and lighting.