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Air Pollution Kills More People Than Smoking

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A dog wears a respirator.

Air pollution is a particularly covert killer. Sometimes smog burns our throats and sears our eyes, but just as often it enters the body unnoticed; a deep breath carries invisible gases and fine particles into the lungs where they hit the bloodstream and wreak havoc on our cardiovascular, circulatory, and respiratory systems. Air pollution has well-documented links to asthma, lung and heart diseases, birth defects, and a slew of other negative health outcomes. And now a new study, published this week in the European Heart Journal, has found that it also kills twice as many people as previously thought—surpassing even smoking-related deaths.

The study, which combined air pollution exposure data and mortality data to model the risk of death, found that tiny particles of pollution known as PM2.5, kicked up into the atmosphere mainly by the burning of fossil fuels and biomass, agriculture, and industrial operations, are responsible for 8.79 million early deaths every year—some 1.5 million more deaths per year than tobacco.

Researchers have known for decades that exposure to air pollution—and thus its myriad health effects—is not equally distributed. In the United States and abroad, minorities and low-income communities face significantly higher levels of air pollution than whites and wealthier communities. But another new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences expanded on that well-known disparity, showing that, while the consumer habits of white Americans were more responsible for causing air pollution, black and hispanic communities were more likely to suffer the consequences. 

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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !