Study: Global Deaths Due To Air Pollution Are Substantially Higher Than Previously Estimated

220px-AlfedPalmersmokestacksA new study has raised the disturbing question of whether we are substantially under-estiminating the annual death toll from air pollution, which currently stands at around 3.4 million a year. The reason is the failure to measure the lethality of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), emitted during fossil fuel burning.

The fact that we underestimate the deaths seems clear. Current estimates focus on deaths linked to fine particles, less than 2.5mm in diameter (PM2.5) have been estimated.

I have discussed before how people still do not associate air pollution with real numbers of fatalities. When we debate pollution controls, we measure concrete numbers of jobs and taxes but rarely put a figure on the resulting deaths associated with rising pollution. Indeed, those numbers are rising. The 3.4 million deaths found by the Global Burden of Disease study from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle was an increase from 3 million in 1990. That is just from outdoor pollution. When you add indoor pollution, the number rises to seven million a year according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In Europe alone, some 500,000 people die prematurely as a result of air pollution every year without even considering N02. It seems to me that, whatever we decided about the acceptable levels of pollution, we should be unified in our demand for more accurate and holistic figures of the estimated cost in health and fatalities. There are real health impacts associated with air pollution that are left as mere generalities in our public debate. The lack of solid figures makes the cost-benefit arguments rather artificial and superficial. It also suggests that, putting aside the need to address global warming, pollution abatement has direct, measurable and immediate benefits for the population at large.

Source: Guardian

101 thoughts on “Study: Global Deaths Due To Air Pollution Are Substantially Higher Than Previously Estimated”

  1. thanks to fukushima dumping plutonium into the air and water daily, fossil fuel pollution is a non issue

  2. How many lives have been saved with the electricity generated via burning fossil fuels?

    Key components of modern civilization (eg refrigeration, medical, computing, etc) are wholly dependent on the use of electricity generated via burning fossil fuels.

    In the US roughly 67% of all electricity is generated via burning fossil fuels.
    Solar, wind and hydro account for less than 11% of electricity generated in the US.

    A cessation in the use of fossil fuel generated electricity in the US would cause immediate and irreparable harm to both citizens (eg much lower living standards as in 3rd world) and the economy at large.

    With out fossil fuel generated electricity humans would never have proliferated so rapidly at the end of the 19th century to present and most of us would not be here to complain about how we generate our electricity.

    Let us also not forget the wonderful advances in travel the burning of fossil fuels have afforded humanity but alas that is another subject.

  3. Here’s a GOOD ONE … maybe identifying your self as something you cannot be is good for you! 🙂 Or maybe maybe pollution made him do it? Me…why I am both Pottawatomie and Irish…who knew? Actually I am really Asian due to my ex-wifes ethnicity. Nah, I’m Pottawatomie ‘cuz I’m living on their land 🙂 My kid is Asian-Pottawatomie-Irish..and should register as Hispanic, what the heck, eh?

  4. OT…but GO BADGERS!

    Now, wait for it: someone, who never went to school there, in Madison no less, tells me, who did go there, I have no right to cheer them on because..not-Wisconsinite. 🙂

  5. Ari, Yes our hypocritical gay former US Senator Herb Kohl paid for the Kohl Center. When he owned the Bucks, the GM had to ask Herbie to stay out of the locker room. He kept staring and the players were pissed.

  6. Nick…”back then” (the early 60’s) “b-ball” was what what U of Wisconsin and U of Michigan football players did to stay in shape. B-ball = Beef Ball in those old days.

    Never the less, we did not need anyone’s permission to cheer for the Badgers in Camp Randall Stadium or the adjacent UW Field House. In those days students could actually afford the tickets to games. The beer age was 18 and good times were had by all.

    What is this “basketball” all y’all speak of?

    Is this thing called “Kohl Center” something the Koch Brothers brought us? Oh, my…must be evil eh? 🙂 [No not really…I’ve no idea who sponsored that place, new in late 90’s … former Senator Herb Kohl maybe? ]

  7. Wallace – the IRS is only answering 40% of its calls. If we could get the EPA to only do 40% of it work we would be on the right track.

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