‘Biggest external threat to public health’: air pollution is more harmful than tobacco and alcohol

A University of Chicago study released Tuesday, August 29, 2023 found that fine particle pollution would be more dangerous to human health than smoking or drinking alcohol. Air pollution has caused more than 48,000 deaths in France, according to ANSES.

Air pollution is more dangerous to human health than tobacco and alcohol, according to new research from the University of Chicago Energy Policy Institute (EPIC), released Tuesday, August 29.

Risks of stroke, cancer, lung disease

According to the report, which looks at global air quality, fine particle pollution will pose the “biggest external threat to public health” worldwide.

The report explains that air pollution caused by industrial plants, cars and smoke from fires significantly increases the risk of strokes, cancer, lung and heart disease.

However, funds allocated to combat air pollution will be nothing compared to funds allocated, for example, to fight AIDS or malaria, the report says.

Thus, the research scientists explain that the regions of the world most affected by air pollution will be those that will receive the least funds to combat this risk: “There is a deep gap between the places where the air is most polluted and those where the air is most polluted. most of the resources are collectively and globally committed to addressing this problem,” Christa Hasenkopf, director of air quality programs at EPIC, told AFP.

India is lagging behind

Particularly affected are some regions of the world, such as Africa and South Asia. The EPIC explains, in part, that if Bangladesh met the WHO-recommended threshold for fine particles (ie 5 g/m3), life expectancy could increase by 6.8 years. However, it is 15 times higher. Similarly, in India, in its capital, New Delhi, where the threshold for fine particles is 25 times higher than that recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

A “good student” remains China, which “has made remarkable strides in the fight against air pollution” launched in 2014, Christa Hasenkopf clarified to the AFP news agency, relayed by AFP. Parisian. Between 2013 and 2021, air pollution in the Middle Country would drop by 42.3%, according to the study, which, however, indicates that it remains six times above the threshold recommended by the WHO.

According to this study, if every country adhered to the fine particle limit set by the WHO, life expectancy in the world would increase by 2.3 years. By comparison, smoking reduces life expectancy worldwide by 2.2 years.

Today, nine out of ten people will be exposed to air pollution. According to WHO, the latter will be responsible for seven million deaths a year, or 12% of all deaths on the globe.

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