LOS ANGELES – Global air pollution contributes to the premature deaths of more than 2 million adults each year, according to new research.
In a study published Friday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, scientists used a number of mathematical models to estimate the effects of fine particulate matter – tiny particles that penetrate deep into the lungs – and ozone, the main component of smog.
The estimate is smaller than most previous calculations, which pegged pollution-related deaths at more than 3 million a year. The researchers also concluded that climate change has had only minimal effect on pollution-related deaths.
“Our estimates make outdoor air pollution among the most important environmental risk factors for health,” wrote lead study co-author Jason West, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina. “Many of these deaths are estimated to occur in East Asia and South Asia, where population is high and air pollution is severe.”