AGRICULTURE & ENVIRONMENT

5.5 million premature deaths annually linked to air pollution

New research indicates that these five countries at most at risk of pollution related deaths.

More than 5.5 million people die annually due to both outdoor and household air pollution, making it one of the leading global risk factors for disease, according to new research. (American Association for the Advancement of Science)

The research suggests that the number of deaths tied to air pollution will continue to rise in the next few decades, proving more than ever, that we need tougher rules to slow the emissions that harm human health.

China and India (also, the world’s two fastest growing economies) are estimated to be the worst effected, with more than half of the deaths caused by air pollution around the world set to occur in those two countries.

Brazil, Pakistan and Japan also rank among other countries that have experienced increases in pollution deaths in recent decades.

The researchers’ findings will hardly come as a surprise to those who study air pollution, as previous research has shown that outdoor air pollution causes more than 3 million deaths annually and suggested that the figure could double by 2050.

Today, air pollution causes 1.6 million premature deaths annually in China, alone.

While it might seem like a problem far away and out of mind, “One of the unique things about air pollution is that you can’t run, you can’t hide from it,” said study researcher Michael Brauer, a professor at the University of British Columbia. The air pollution that is affecting premature deaths in emerging countries is also effecting climate change that will impact every citizen of the world.

Interested in effecting change in the world?

To work in the conversation industry you are best to study either a science undergraduate course, or aim to work in a political setting (both very different from each other). Scientists ask the questions like, ‘how can science clean the water?’ and ‘how does climate change affect our natural resources?’ you get things like water purification and solar panels. Politicians and policy makers are the ones that can enforce these conservation strategies.

We chatted to Environmental Biologist, Megan Phillips from UTS about the work she does to prevent the damaging effects of pollution on the environment.

I am working something called a phytoremediation experiment.

FN: Haha, so if you had to simplify that a little more….?

Phytoremediation is the use of specialised plants to clean up polluted soil.

We are trying to use plants to absorb harmful chemicals from soils.

While most plants exposed to high levels of soil toxins will be injured or die, scientists have discovered that certain plants are resistant, and an even smaller group actually thrive.

FN: What did you study?

I studied a Bachelor of Environmental Biology and followed it up with a PhD in Invasive Plants.

5.5 million premature deaths annually linked to air pollution
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