Air pollution remains the greatest killer of human beings on the planet, according to a new study by the European Society of Cardiology. Air pollution reduces global life expectancy by an average of 2.9 years — almost four times more than parasitic and vector-borne diseases. In fact, ambient air pollution kills more people on the planet than tobacco smoking and violence.
Poor air quality kills more people on average in East Asia (196 deaths/100,000 people per year), Europe (133 deaths/100,000 people per year) and South Asia (119 deaths/100,000 people per year) than anywhere else in the world.
The shortening of life expectancy can be reversed with a cut in greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, removing fossil fuel emissions would result in an increased life expectancy of 1.1 years, according to the study. Nowhere would that improvement be more felt than in East Asia, which could see a three-year increase in life expectancy should action be pursued to reduce air pollution.