CBS/AFP – Air pollution is more dangerous to the health of the average person on planet Earth than smoking or alcohol, with the threat worsening in its global epicenter South Asia even as China quickly improves, a benchmark study showed Tuesday.
Yet the level of funding set aside to confront the challenge is a fraction of the amount earmarked for fighting infectious diseases, said the research from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, known as EPIC.
Its annual Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report showed that fine particulate air pollution — which comes from vehicle and industrial emissions, wildfires and more — remains the “greatest external threat to public health.”
If the world were to permanently reduce these pollutants to meet the World Health Organization’s guideline limit, the average person would add 2.3 years onto his or her life expectancy, according to the data, which has a 2021 cutoff. That adds up to 17.8 billion life years saved, the researchers point out.
Fine particulate matter is linked to lung disease, heart disease, strokes and cancer.
Tobacco use, by comparison, reduces global life expectancy by 2.2 years while child and maternal malnutrition is responsible for a reduction of 1.6 years.
“The impact of (fine particulate air pollution) on global life expectancy is comparable to that of smoking, more than 3 times that of alcohol use and unsafe water, more than 5 times that of transport injuries like car crashes, and more than 7 times that of HIV/AIDS,” the report says.
Asia and Africa bear the greatest burden yet have some of the weakest infrastructure to deliver citizens timely, accurate data. They also receive tiny slices of an already small global philanthropic pie.
For example, the entire continent of Africa receives less than $300,000 to tackle air pollution.
“There is a profound disconnect with where air pollution is the worst and where we, collectively and globally, are deploying resources to fix the problem” … READ MORE.