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Community, Spirit, Sustainability

3.7 Million Global Deaths Each Year Due to Outside Air Pollution Caused by Burning Fossil Fuels. Outdoor and Indoor Air Pollution Kills 7 Million a Year Says World Health Organization

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Submitted by Lawrence on

Introduction:

Outdoor air pollution, which is related significantly to fossil fuel burning is having major, steady and near-invisible negative health effects on both your life and the lives of your children. It is it also directly related to several of the biggest global causes of death and it causes approximately 11 to 13% of all deaths globally.

Below you will find more details on the personal health implications of escalating fossil fuel burning which is polluting our atmosphere and warming our planet. Air pollution caused mostly by fossil fuel burning is not just a global warming challenge, it is also a serious personal health challenge to your and your family's present and future wellbeing.

Some Key Facts:

a.) Annual Death Rate: According to the World Health Organization, Air pollution kills 7 million people a year globally, 80 percent of them from heart disease and stroke. This 7 million total makes air pollution the world’s largest single environmental health risk, accounting for one out of eight deaths.

“The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes,” WHO’s Dr. Maria Neira said in a statement. “Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.”

The WHO estimates that air pollution was involved in 4.3 million deaths in households that used wood, coal or other open-air fires, while an additional 3.7 million died from the effects of outdoor pollution. (Of that 3.7 million annual amount who died from the effects of outdoor air pollution, it was caused mostly by the air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels. (Click here to see more about all of the significant fossil fuel burning related causes of air pollution.)

b.) Specific Health Risks of Air Pollution: A World Health Organization survey found that 40 percent of deaths linked to outdoor air pollution were from heart disease; another 40 percent from stroke; 11 percent from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); 6 percent from lung cancer and 3 percent from acute lower respiratory infections in children. For more information from the World Health Organization on where these air pollution death numbers come from (the 10 major causes of death globally,)  click here.

c.) Other Effects of Air Pollution: In addition to aggravating chronic respiratory and cardiovascular disease exposure to air pollution can damage lung tissue, lead to premature death, and may even contribute to cancer. Global warming may exacerbate these problems by affecting the concentration, distribution, and type of both manmade and natural air pollutants.

Ozone levels, for example, are likely to increase because higher temperatures accelerate the rate at which ground-level ozone (the main component of smog) is formed. While long-term exposure to ozone is linked to the development and exacerbation of chronic lung diseases, even short-term exposure to relatively low ozone concentrations can cause lung inflammation, acutely decreased lung function, and respiratory impairment.

A 2004 study using global warming and air quality models in the 31-county New York metropolitan region projected a median increase of ozone-related acute mortality across the region of 4.5 percent by the 2050s.

Although increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations have no known direct adverse health effects, other byproducts of fossil fuel combustion, including airborne particulate matter (PM), sulfur oxides (SOx), and nitrogen oxides (NOx), are associated with a number of well-established health risks.

Consequently, a continued rise in CO2 emissions would be mirrored by a rise in the harmful effects of these combustion byproducts. In recognizing the link between CO2 emissions and PM pollution, one study (Cifuentes et al.) estimated that adoption of existing, readily acquirable greenhouse gas mitigation technologies would reduce PM concentrations by 10 percent, thus avoiding 64,000 premature deaths and 65,000 chronic bronchitis cases through 2020 in four cities alone—New York City, USA; Santiago, Chile; Mexico City, Mexico; and São Paulo, Brazil.

These studies demonstrate that actions aimed at mitigating the atmospheric accumulation of greenhouse gases would have the powerful additional benefit of reducing the adverse health effects associated with a range of air pollutants.

d.) Allergies, Asthma and Children: There also is growing evidence that rising global mean temperatures are impacting both the timing and abundance of airborne allergens, especially pollen. Experimental studies have demonstrated significant increases in pollen production resulting from exposure to in creased CO2 concentrations, while examination of recent trends have linked elevated pollen levels to increases in temperature.

Additionally, some studies suggest stronger allergenicity of pollen from trees grown at increased temperatures. Another study (Patz, et al,) warn of the potential public health consequences of these changes:

“climate change may adversely impact the occurrence and severity of asthma, the most common chronic disease of childhood, and affect the timing or duration of seasonal allergies such as hay fever.”

Combined with the observed doubling of pediatric asthma prevalence within the past twenty years, children’s physiological and behavioral susceptibility to air pollution increases their risk of being adversely affected by changes in the concentration and distribution of pollutants.

In Summary:

The pollution of our air by fossil fuel burning has many direct negative effects on our world. The personal negative health effects can be summed up by increased death from heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and  acute lower respiratory infections in children. These are debilitating, slow-developing and painful degenerative conditions that could already be affecting you or your family. These are also health issues that can be prevented or lessened by dramatically reducing fossil fuel use.  

Related: When We Harm The Environment, We're Hurting Our Health...

You and I can act together to save 3,700,000 lives every year by executing the air de-pollution actions of the Job One For Humanity Climate Re-stabilization Plan.

 

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