Air is our source of life. We breathe it incessantly. But in the recent years, it has also become one of the main responsible for our deaths. Yes, it's bad to say, but every year the polluted air we breathe kills 5.5 million people around the world.
The research team, which arrived to estimate this number comes from Canada, China, India and the US, and has analyzed data from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) of the University of Washington. The study includes three sources of air pollution. Ozone emissions and particulate matter are both emitted by automobiles and industrial processes. Both can cause respiratory problems or aggravate existing conditions such as lung disease and asthma. The third source is household pollution from burning wood or dung for cookfires. This is common across India, many countries in Africa, and elsewhere in the developing world.
To make it more impactful, they took a map of the globe and colored countries more or less at risk with different colors.
Purples catch the eye, they are the most serious: Over half of all deaths from air pollution occur in China, with 1.6 million deaths, and India, with 1.4 million. What does it mean to be part of this group? It means that for every 100,000 people, 75 or more die due air pollution. But it also means that air quality is not acceptable for 99% of the population and that the number of deaths will continue to increase, lowering significantly life expectation. Immediately after the more serious ones, there are Russia, Kazakhstan and many eastern European countries, with deaths ranging from 50 to 75 persons per 100,000. Among the countries that can 'boast' only less than 25 deaths per 100,000, are Australia, Argentina, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Chile and Mexico. A map that definitely does a lot to think even to countries that are in better conditions.