Air Pollution Is Shortening People's Lives by Nearly Three Years, According to a New Study

Pollution is responsible for more deaths than tobacco, HIV/AIDS, and wars.
Loukia Papadopoulos

A new study is revealing some alarming facts about air pollution. The research found that air pollution is shortening people's lifespans more than wars, diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and smoking.


A pandemic

In fact, the study's authors are stating that they believe air pollution is a "pandemic." “Since the impact of air pollution on public health overall is much larger than expected, and is a worldwide phenomenon, we believe our results show there is an ‘air pollution pandemic’," said Thomas Münzel, of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Department of Cardiology of the University Medical Centre Mainz in Mainz, Germany.

"Policy-makers and the medical community should be paying much more attention to this. Both air pollution and smoking are preventable, but over the past decades much less attention has been paid to air pollution than to smoking, especially among cardiologists."

The researchers employed a method of modeling the effects of various sources of air pollution on death rates and found that air pollution caused an extra 8.8 million premature deaths a year worldwide in 2015. This is the equivalent of an average shortening of the lifespan of nearly three years for all people on the planet.

“It is remarkable that both the number of deaths and the loss in life expectancy from air pollution rival the effect of tobacco smoking and are much higher than other causes of death. Air pollution exceeds malaria as a global cause of premature death by a factor of 19; it exceeds violence by a factor of 16, HIV/AIDS by a factor of 9, alcohol by a factor of 45, and drug abuse by a factor of 60," said Max Planck Institute for Chemistry's Jos Lelieveld who led the research along with Münzel.