A team of health and environmental researchers has found that 2.1 million deaths could be prevented each year if air quality guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) were adhered to throughout the world.
The study, published in the journal, Environmental Science & Technology, highlights the fact that improving air quality in both polluted and less-heavily polluted areas could bring significant health benefits and prevent millions of deaths each year.
The researchers focused on an air pollutant known as particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5). PM2.5 is emitted by diesel vehicles, fires, coal power plants, among other sources, and can have a range of negative effects on the lungs.
The scientists used global information on air pollution levels and the amount of people living with certain health conditions alongside the WHO air quality guidelines to build a model of how changes in pollution levels could lead to improvements in human health.
They found that reducing levels of PM2.5 could bring about major health benefits for both people living in the world’s most polluted areas and those in less polluted places, such as in North America and Western Europe.
Based on these findings, the researchers have called for more action to be taken to reduce air pollution.
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