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article imageAir pollution is the world’s second biggest killer

By Sonia D'Costa     Feb 17, 2016 in Health
Most of the over 5 million people who die prematurely every year because of air pollution are those who live in China and India.
According to a study, the results of which were presented in Washington during an annual meet of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, air and household pollution is the world’s second biggest killer, trailing close behind smoking, which kills 6 million people worldwide every year. The study was initiated by the researchers of University of British Columbia in Canada.
As Michael Brauer, a professor and researcher at University of British Columbia, puts it, one cannot escape air pollution caused by power plant emissions, automobiles, industrial activities, and badly working stoves and heating systems. Although high-income nations have seen a decrease in air pollution, it still remains a major cause of disease and death all over the world.
The major cause for decline in air quality in China is burning coal. Qiao Ma, a research student of the School of Environment at Beijing’s Tsinghua University said that burning coal has killed 366,000 people in 2013. In India, the poorest are continuously exposed to pollution right in their houses although Chandra Venkataraman, a chemical engineering professor at Mumbai’s Indian Institute of Technology, says that officials are trying their best to regulate the situation.
Air pollution is caused by the particulate matter resulting from activities such as transportation, power generation, and open burning. Many people still burn animal dung, wood, and coal for cooking and heat generation purposes. Researchers say that the pollution caused by these methods lead to strokes and heart attacks, accounting for nearly 1 million deaths in China, half a million deaths in India, and nearly 300,000 deaths in European Union (EU) countries and the United States.
The University of British Columbia researchers used data compiled in 2013 to create this report, but Dan Greenbaum, president of the Health Effects Institute, a nonprofit based in Boston, said that “these things don’t change overnight” and pointed out that “last year’s death toll likely was similar.”
Over 85 percent of the human population resides in countries that have far exceeded the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Air Quality Guideline, indicating that countries will have to take some serious steps if they want to improve the quality of the air their citizens breath day in and day out. The researchers have warned that the number of air pollution deaths will increase over the next twenty years in India and China if the two countries do not take aggressive steps to control air pollution.
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