March 1, 2016
Air pollution is a scourge that kills far more people than AIDS and malaria. A 2012 World Health Organization (WHO) study found that 3.5 million people die early annually from indoor air pollution and 3.3 million from outdoor air pollution. Toxic particles shorten lives by causing diseases such as pneumonia and cancer. Air pollution is increasingly linked with ill health and deaths in many Asian countries as emissions rise.
Across Asia, smog is an acute problem. The data, published as part of a global review of causes of death in December 2012, were an upwards revision of previous figures of 1.9 million premature deaths caused by household pollution a year and 1.3 million outdoors.
The database shows that China and India are by far the worst affected countries. In China alone, outdoor air pollution kills 2 million people. By comparison, U.N. reports show that worldwide there were about 1.7 million AIDS-related deaths in 2011 and malaria killed about 660,000 people in 2010.
Fine particulate matter produced from burning wood or coal or from car exhaust can contribute to a narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the brain, or carotid artery stenosis. This constriction of the arteries can lead to cardiovascular disease.
According to the World Resources Institute, USA, around 80% of all the deaths from outdoor pollution came as a result of stroke and Ischaemic heart disease, 11% from lung diseases and 6% from cancers. The vast majority were in Asia, with 180,000 in the Americas and Europe combined, said the WHO.