February 2013

Volume 22, Number 2

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Green Topics

Deaths Related to Air Pollution Increase Worldwide

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By Erin Weaver

A new study in The Lancet shows air pollution contributing to an increasing number of deaths worldwide, with 3.2 million premature deaths in 2010 attributable to outdoor air pollution. Part of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, the article tracks changes in risk factors since 1990. While communicable diseases and malnutrition cause fewer deaths than they did two decades ago, deaths attributable to air pollution have increased fourfold.

Overall, non-communicable diseases such as cancer and heart disease have become the leading causes of death, and many of them are caused at least in part by pollutants. Much of the increase in pollution-related mortality is in Asia, where rising numbers of vehicles result in more soot and other ambient particulate matter from diesel exhaust. Indoor air pollution, especially from coal- and wood-burning stoves, has decreased since 1990—but it still caused approximately 3.5 million premature deaths, largely in India and parts of Africa.

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January 28, 2013