7 million deaths annually linked to air pollution

In new estimates released yesterday, The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that in 2012 around 7 million people died – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk. Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives.

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In particular, the new data reveal a stronger link between both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and ischaemic heart disease, as well as between air pollution and cancer. This is in addition to air pollution’s role in the development of respiratory diseases, including acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.

The new estimates are not only based on more knowledge about the diseases caused by air pollution, but also upon better assessment of human exposure to air pollutants through the use of improved measurements and technology. This has enabled scientists to make a more detailed analysis of health risks from a wider demographic spread that now includes rural as well as urban areas.

Regionally, low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions had the largest air pollution-related burden in 2012, with a total of 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths related to outdoor air pollution. Continue reading

New research suggests a strong link between childhood asthma and air pollution

Researchers will reveal the strongest evidence to date that air pollution is biologically linked to childhood asthma at the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) Pediatric Allergy and Asthma meeting, PAAM 2013, in Athens, Greece from October 17 to 19.

link between childhood asthma and air pollution

Data released jointly by the Epidemiology And Allergic and Respiratory Diseases (EPAR) Department from Sorbonne University and the Institut National de le Santé et de la Recherche-Médicale (INSERM), both based in Paris, indicate that air pollution may cause new cases of asthma. They also specify that evidence from toxicological studies, together with information from genes associated with asthma, suggest the link between air pollution and asthma is biologically plausible.

The new findings also reveal that an average of 1 in 7 children living within 75 metres of a busy road are likely to develop asthma (http://www.aphekom.eu). In areas with the heaviest air pollution, 1 in 4 children could potentially develop asthma.

Additionally, outdoor levels of air pollutants continue to aggravate asthma in sufferers despite industrial air pollution generally decreasing.

Indoor air pollution is caused by unvented gas or kerosene heaters, tobacco use, solvents, painting adhesives and other similar materials. Indoor air pollution is increasing, and with individuals spending on average almost 90 per cent of their time inside, this is also cause for concern.

All these findings come in the “Year of Air” which has seen the EU push for stronger air quality laws. However, at this time no major measure has been taken concerning asthma and other similar diseases.

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