Air Pollution From Fossil Fuels Tied to 5 Million Excess Deaths Annually

In HealthDay News
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Authors say phasing out fossil fuels could cut deaths globally

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Nov. 30, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Phasing out fossil fuels might have a greater impact on global deaths than previously thought, according to a study published online Nov. 29 in The BMJ.

Jos Lelieveld, Ph.D., from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, and colleagues estimated all-cause and cause-specific deaths attributable to fossil fuel-related air pollution. The analysis included data from the Global Burden of Disease 2019 study and observational fine particulate matter and population data from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The researchers estimated that globally, there are 8.34 million all-cause excess deaths per year due to fine particulate and ozone air pollution. Most of this mortality burden is tied to cardiometabolic conditions (52 percent), including ischemic heart disease (30 percent) and stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (16 percent for each). Globally, an estimated 5.13 million excess deaths annually are attributable to ambient air pollution from fossil fuel use and therefore could potentially be avoided by phasing out fossil fuels (~82 percent of the maximum number of air pollution deaths). Rather than a complete phase-out, smaller reductions indicate that responses are not strongly nonlinear. 

“Phasing out fossil fuels is deemed to be an effective intervention to improve health and save lives as part the United Nations’ goal of climate neutrality by 2050,” the authors write.

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