Air pollution cuts global life expectancy by two years, according to new data from the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI).
The AQLI, which converts particulate air pollution into its impact on life expectancy has revealed that before COVID-19, air pollution was the greatest threat to human health.
Particulate pollution has been found to have a greater impact on life expectancy than diseases like tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, behavioural killers like cigarette smoking, and even war.
The research has also highlighted that this loss to life expectancy may be even higher in countries that are more heavily polluted.
Currently, nearly a quarter of the global population lives in four countries in South Asia that are among the world’s most polluted: Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan.
According to the research, people living in these countries could see their lives cut short by 5 years on average,
Michael Greenstone, creator of the AQLI said: ‘Though the threat of coronavirus is grave and deserves every bit of the attention it is receiving—perhaps more in some places—embracing the seriousness of air pollution with a similar vigour would allow billions of people around the world to lead longer and healthier lives.
‘The reality is, no shot in the arm will alleviate air pollution. The solution lies in robust public policy. The AQLI tells citizens and policymakers how particulate pollution is affecting them and their communities and can be used to measure the benefits of policies to reduce pollution.
‘The good news is that there is now a track record of countries deciding to take action and succeeding in cleaning the air.
‘As countries today try to balance the dual goals of economic growth and environmental quality, the historical lesson from around the world is that policy can reduce air pollution in a wide variety of political contexts.’
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