Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Air pollution – an important and neglected cause of death

02.07.2018

Particulate matter significantly increases mortality amongst children in low-income countries

In 2015, around 4.5 million people died prematurely from diseases attributed to ambient air pollution, including 237,000 children under the age of five from respiratory infections. This is the result of a study published by the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.


Annually, 4.55 million people lose their lives due to ambient air pollution. The graphic shows the mortality rate in individual per area of 1,000 km2 and year.

MPI for Chemistry


Dangerous air: ambient air pollution caused by smog, as in Mumbai, India, causes fatal diseases.

Abha Sachdev / flickr

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around one million children younger than five years died from lower respiratory infections in 2015. Fine particulates smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5) play a decisive role.

Fine particulates penetrate deeply into the respiratory tract, and as a result can increase the risks of respiratory infections, ischaemic heart disease (heart attacks), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cerebrovascular disease (strokes) and lung cancer.

Between 2000 and 2015 the global average concentration of fine particulate matter to which humans are exposed has increased from around 40 to 44.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air. This is more than four times the concentration of 10 micrograms recommended by the WHO as an upper limit for annual mean exposure. The irritant gas ozone also contributes to respiratory health effects.

The origin of particulate matter differs from country to country: in India, for example, the burning of solid fuels for cooking and heating is the most important single source, whereas power plants, transport and agriculture are the largest sources in the USA. The air inside buildings from household pollution can also pose a major health risk, but the focus of a study published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health on 29 June 2018 is on ambient air.

122 million years of life were lost through early deaths

The researchers Jos Lelieveld, Andy Haines and Andrea Pozzer have determined the exposure to particulate matter and ozone with an established global model of atmospheric chemistry. They linked the ambient (outdoor) air pollutant concentrations to data on population as well as disease occurrence and causes of death in different countries. They calculated that in 2015 worldwide about 270,000 excess deaths occurred from exposure to ozone and 4.28 million from particulate matter.

The causes of death included 727,000 people with lower respiratory tract infections, 1.09 million with COPD, 920,000 with cerebrovascular disease, 1.5 million with heart disease and 304,000 with lung cancer. As a result of these excess deaths, worldwide 122 million years of life were lost in 2015. These figures, the authors say, are lower limits because other diseases, which may also be related to air pollution, have not been taken into account.

Inadequate medical care and malnourishment increase the danger for children

The study focuses on children under the age of five who may be particularly sensitive to the effects of air pollution on respiratory infections. The calculations showed that in 2015, out of a total of 669 million children under five around the world, about 240,000 died from poor air quality as a result of lower respiratory tract infections, particularly pneumonia.

In comparison, 87,000 children died from HIV/AIDS, 525,000 from diarrhoea and 312,000 from malaria in the same year. The likelihood of children dying from polluted air was particularly high in Africa. In low-income countries, curable diseases often cause death because many children are undernourished and medical care is inadequate.

In Chad for example, the health risk for children from ambient air pollution is almost ten times higher than the global average. Life expectancy is substantially reduced. In sub-Saharan Africa, children lose four to five years of life expectancy on average due to ambient air pollution.

'A three-pronged strategy is needed'

The study also shows that in some lower to middle income countries, notably India and Pakistan, the mortality rate for girls is 1.2 times higher than for boys, which may reflect differences in nutrition and health care. On the other hand, the study shows that in India child mortality due to air pollution is declining, probably because health care, household air pollution and nutrition are improving.

Nevertheless, as ambient air quality continues to deteriorate, the cause of mortality shifts to other diseases and older people. The authors call for a three-pronged strategy to prevent child deaths from air pollution: adequate nutrition combined with improved health care and air quality.

Original Publication
Age-dependent health risk from ambient air pollution: a modelling study of childhood mortality in middle and low-income countries
Jos Lelieveld, Andy Haines, Andrea Pozzer
The Lancet Planetary Health, 2 Juli 2018

Contact
Prof. Dr. Jos Lelieveld
Department for Atmospheric Chemistry
Max Planck Institute for Chemistry
Telephone: +49-6131-3054040
Email: jos.lelieveld@mpic.de

Prof. Dr. Andy Haines
Department of Public Health, Environments and Society,
London School of Hygiene & Tropical
Telephone: +44(0)207 9272 802
Email: press@lshtm.ac.uk

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.mpic.de/en/news/press-information/news/air-pollution-an-important-an...

Dr. Susanne Benner | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Graphene gives a tremendous boost to future terahertz cameras
16.04.2019 | ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences

nachricht Mount Kilimanjaro: Ecosystems in Global Change
28.03.2019 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

Im Focus: Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications

The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...

Im Focus: A long-distance relationship in femtoseconds

Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.

Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...

Im Focus: Researchers 3D print metamaterials with novel optical properties

Engineers create novel optical devices, including a moth eye-inspired omnidirectional microwave antenna

A team of engineers at Tufts University has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties that go beyond what is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New automated biological-sample analysis systems to accelerate disease detection

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

18.04.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

New eDNA technology used to quickly assess coral reefs

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>