Air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels killed 8.7 people. The worst area is considered the Far East. Researchers are calling for an accelerated transition to renewables.

Almost Nine Million Dead

A new study published in the Environmental Research journal states that long-term exposure to polluted air increases the risk of many serious health problems that can lead to premature death, including heart and respiratory diseases.

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Air pollution is a global problem. In a new study, an international scientific team estimated that in 2018 alone, a poisonous cocktail of small particles caused death to 8.7 million people over the age of 14 worldwide.

The number, which is higher than previous estimates, also shocked the study authors. “It is ubiquitous. The more intensely we look for impacts, the more we find,” said a team member Eloise Marais from University College London.

Deaths Across Continents

The highest numbers of deaths due to air pollution were counted in Asian countries – up to a third of all East Asia deaths. According to scientists, in Europe and the US, fossil fuel emissions can account for one in 10 deaths. On the contrary, these figures were significantly lower in Australia, Oceania, and Africa.

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In China, air pollution decreased the average life expectancy by 4.1 years, in India by 3.9 years, and in Pakistan by 3.8 years. For Europeans, greenhouse gas emissions cut lives by an average of eight months. Researchers believe that without using fossil fuels, the average life expectancy of the world’s population would increase by one year.

Renewable Sources to Reduce Emissions

“We often talk about the dangers of burning fossil fuels in the context of climate change and overlook the potential health effects,” said study co-author Joel Schwartz of Harvard T.H.

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According to Schwartz, the possibility of avoiding millions of premature deaths should be a sufficient incentive for politicians to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the transition to renewable sources.

Source:, Image by Ralf Vetterle from Pixabay