According to the findings of a study that was released on Tuesday, chronic air pollution reduces the average life expectancy of people around the world by more than two years. This impact is comparable to that of smoking and is significantly worse than that of HIV/AIDS or terrorism. According to the most recent Air Quality Life Index published by the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute (EPIC), which utilised satellite data to measure levels of PM2.5, hazardous floating particles that damage the lungs, more than 97 percent of the world’s population lives in areas where air pollution exceeds the levels that are recommended for safe breathing.
It was stated that if the global PM2.5 levels were reduced to the level recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is five micrograms per cubic metre, then the average life expectancy would increase by an average of 2.2 years.
According to the findings of the study, funding to address the issue of air pollution remains inadequate, despite the fact that it has been neglected as a public health issue.
According to Christa Hasenkopf, director of EPIC’s Air Quality Life Index, “now that our understanding of pollution’s impact has improved, there’s a stronger case for governments to prioritise it as an urgent policy issue.”
According to the findings of the study, people living in South Asia lose an average of five years of their lives due to air pollution, with India being responsible for approximately 44 percent of the global increase in air pollution since 2013.
Although life expectancy has increased by approximately two years since 2013, when the country began a “war on pollution” that reduced PM2.5 by approximately 40 percent, residents of China could live an average of 2.6 years longer if WHO standards were met. However, life expectancy has improved by approximately two years since 2013.
The calculations done by EPIC were based on an earlier study that demonstrated that prolonged exposure to an additional 10 micrograms per cubic metre of PM2.5 would reduce life expectancy by almost an entire year.
According to a survey of pollution data that was published earlier this year, not a single nation was able to meet the WHO’s 5-microgram standard in 2021.
GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings