3.3 Million Lives Taken By Horrific Polluted Air… Every Year

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Originally published on EV Obsession.

You know that smog that you hate breathing when you’re stuck in traffic? Yeah, it’s killing you.

I suppose that’s something that most of us know in the back of our heads, but it probably doesn’t come to the forefront all that often. New research published in the journal Nature might change that, though, as the numbers are pretty clear — 3.3 million people are killed every year as a result of outdoor air pollution.


Very notably, that number is set to continue rising as the pollution problem becomes more and more impossible to ignore. The number of deaths caused by outdoor air pollution each year is currently set to rise to 6.6 million a year by 2050 (by researcher estimates), if emissions aren’t cut. Just another reminder why electric vehicles are so important to us.

“This projection should sound alarm bells for public-health agencies around the world,” stated Michael Jerrett, professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at UCLA.

“Should.” Probably. But will it? Doubtful.

Climate Progress provides more context and stats:

The study found that China and India — the world’s first- and third-highest greenhouse gas emitters — have the highest rates of death from air pollution. In China, a country that’s suffered from off-the-charts air pollution that’s closed schools and forced some residents to stay indoors, air pollution kills nearly 1.4 million people each year. India — which is home to Delhi, a city which has the most toxic air of any city in the world — sees about 645,000 deaths due to air pollution every year. In the United States, according to the study, air pollution kills about 54,900 people annually.

The main causes of air pollution-related death are cerebrovascular disease (which affects blood flow to the brain), certain forms of heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Residential and commercial energy use — which includes burning things like coal and wood on a small scale and using diesel for fuel — contributes most to deadly outdoor air pollution worldwide. The second-largest contributor to dangerous air pollution is, surprisingly, agriculture — the study found that ammonia released from fertilizer and animal waste reacted with traffic and power plant fumes to create dangerous particulate matter. In the United Kingdom, nearly half of all pollution-related deaths are tied to agricultural pollution, according to the study.

It should be noted here that the figures quoted only account for outdoor pollution. Indoor air pollution is perhaps an even greater problem (indoor air is, in general, incredibly polluted as well). If deaths caused by indoor air pollution were factored in, then the numbers involved would be much, much higher.

But as it stands, this new work represents the most comprehensive quantification of air pollution death tolls to date.

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

CleanTechnica Holiday Wish Book

Holiday Wish Book Cover

Click to download.

Our Latest EVObsession Video

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it!! So, we've decided to completely nix paywalls here at CleanTechnica. But...
Like other media companies, we need reader support! If you support us, please chip in a bit monthly to help our team write, edit, and publish 15 cleantech stories a day!
Thank you!

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

James Ayre has 4830 posts and counting. See all posts by James Ayre

16 thoughts on “3.3 Million Lives Taken By Horrific Polluted Air… Every Year

  • Indoor air pollution has quite different causes: wood fires, and kerosene lamps and cookers. The energy transition should replace these too.

    I don’t share James Ayres’ cynicism about the likelihood of action. Air pollution is local, and connects with retail politics in a way that climate change can’t. The Sierra Club’s campaign to close down coal generators in the USA has gone very well. Boris Johnson, the flamboyant and ambitious Tory mayor of London, is ostentatiously green. Other big-city leaders are coming to the same conclusion.

    UNEP put a price tag on the annual health costs of air pollution: $3 trillion.

    • last monday I got a great McLaren F1 since geting a check for $18350 this last 5 weeks and-a little over, 17-grand lass-month . it’s certainly the coolest job I have ever had . I actually started 10-months ago and practically straight away was bringing in minimum $97, p/h . read the full info here
      >➤➤➤➤➤➤ http://www.DailyFinanceReportz.Ml


  • Traffic stinks. Car stink. Literally. And still nobody seems to care. Quality of life would be much better without that ICE shit, but still people are buying them in droves. Everytime cars come up, I argue for EVs. Still amazing, that I have to, since everybody knows how much ICE cars stink. Somehow there is a disconnect between the exhaust fumes and the cars. The automotive industry did a good job on that. People think it is always the other cars, mine isn’t the problem!

    • I agree but it is not only ICE cars, trucks, but also lawnmowers and other small ICE equipment without pollution controls.
      Who in their right mind would want to walk behind a ICE car, truck an inhale deeply the fumes ,but we do it as living in cities, towns.

    • I agree. We have been driving Nissan LEAFs for 4-1/2 years now. It is strange that every time I get into a discussion, ICE aficionados what to point out the car’s weakness (most often range) without recognizing their strong points and these folks all have two cars or more.

  • And that’s just deaths. Stats on other topics quote ‘deaths and serious injuries ‘ so how about including ‘impaired lives’ here? It’s hard to believe that wouldn’t encompass most of the World population and that it may not also go a long way towards explaining much of the persistence in our aberrant behaviour which seems to forever prevent harmony.
    The continuing move into cities can only exacerbate the problem.

  • Why are so many of cleantechnica’s pictures so small?

    I can’t read the text off of this one either.

    • Right click.

      Open in new tab.

      Zoom in if necessary.

      • True, but if you have to zoom in a lot, the resolution is very poor and the print is sometimes illegible.

      • My browser doesn’t support zoom 🙁

  • It’s time people started viewing ICE pollution with the same alarm and distaste they now view smoking,
    The latest law on prohibiting smoking in cars when there is an under 18 in the car would be laughable if the overall problem of air pollution wasn’t so serious.

    • Why don’t we view air pollution like we view smoking? Because the government hasn’t run a campaign against air pollution like it ran against smoking. In other words, the government was willing to take on the tobacco companies, but it is not willing to take on the oil and coal companies.

      • Because the pollution is not as obvious?

        Don’t know if you were around when air pollution (smog) was a major issue in many cities. Some were so bad that people turned on their headlights in the middle of the day. The obvious stuff was cleaned up.

        I think it was less than two years ago that some of us started making noise about the health costs of fossil fuels. The Epstein paper was published in 2011 and the findings have taken some time to receive attention.

        Publicize it. That’s how we can bring about change. Make many people aware of how fossil fuels are wrecking their health and costing them money.

        • Not obvious, sure. Neither is mercury in the fish, but the government has done a fairly good job warning about it.

          You and me publicizing it doesn’t do nearly as much good as PSAs in the MSM.

          • Some of the problem may be that we had no valid option to fossil fuels until recently if we wanted to keep the lights on and our transportation running.

            Now that we’re seeing alternatives to burning FF people might be ready to deal with the downsides of carbon based energy. I doubt you could find a single coal miner who didn’t fully understand that coal dust was killing them but working in the mines was the only option they saw for themselves.

            With fish all one had to do is to eat a different type. Now we can quit coal and use renewables.

            You and I can get a few other people roused up and they can rouse other. That’s now stuff gets into the public consciousness and that should lead to PSAs and media discussions.

            I attempt to get some renewable energy facts onto other sites every day. I look for places where facts fit and hopefully other people will start thinking solutions a bit more.

  • We won’t hear this on Fox News. The right wingers’ current propaganda campaign is that the poor cannot afford clean energy. Switching to clean energy would be too much of a financial burden on them. The truth is that the health costs of pollution fall disproportionately on the poor.

Comments are closed.