US News: Study: 1.8 million additional deaths by particulate matter

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about 2.5 billion people in cities worldwide are exposed to a fine dust burden that is above the limits recommended by the World Health Organization WHO. These are about 86 percent of all people living in cities, writing the scientists. For the calculation, there were therefore data from around 13,000 cities worldwide to load with fine dust particles less than 2.5 microns. The researchers considered the period from 2000 to 2019.

  Studie: 1,8 Millionen zusätzliche Todesfälle durch Feinstaub © Provided by Berliner Zeitung

On average, the load at 35 micrograms is located fine dust per cubic meter of air and thus have exceeded the current limit values ​​of the World Health Organization WHO of five micrograms per cubic meter average for seven times. According to scientists, this increased burden caused more than 1.8 million additional deaths alone in 2019. About 61 out of 100,000 dead in urban areas could be attributed to the particulate matter pollution.

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The burden of particulate matter and the additional deaths are particularly high in the conurbations of Southeast Asia, writing the scientists. In these areas, there have also been the highest levels of air pollution. In Europe and the American continent, the fine dust pollution in the cities, on the other hand, had fallen from 2000 to 2019, yet the fine dust values ​​for a majority of the world's population are unhealthy.

The tiny fine dust particles can penetrate deep into the airways and damage the lungs sustainably. A high fine dust load can lead to cardiac and respiratory diseases, lung cancer and lower respiratory infections.

, however, is the calculation of deaths by particulate matter again and again in criticism: often no causal relationship between fine dust and diseases or even deaths are provided, my critic. Ultimately, other factors could have been the cause. The authors of the US study also emphasize that their results are an estimate. The actual effect of air pollution can be below as well as the calculated values.

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The deaths listed can not be returned to the fine dust load alone. In other words, there is no cause of death. Rather, there are diseases that were favored by the fine dust stress, such as lung cancer. That is, the air would be cleaner, people would not be sick and therefore do not die prematurely.

A second study of the same author team is concluded that around 1.85 million newly encountered cases of asthma in children worldwide are due to high nitrogen dioxide stress worldwide, two-thirds of them in cities. Nitrogen dioxide arises from combustion processes, such as in motors. High concentrations are achieved on busy streets.

The proportion of asthma diseases in children, which can be attributed to nitrogen dioxide burden in cities, had fallen last, explained the researchers. The reason for this may be more stringent air pollution regulations in richer countries. Nevertheless, both studies show how urgent the air quality in cities must be improved.

Last year, the EU Environment Agency (EEA) reported that in 2019 in the EU Member States, an estimated 307,000 people died by air burden with particulate matter prematurely, including tens of thousands in Germany. 97 percent of the urban population in the EU are exposed to a fine dust concentration in the ambient air, which lies over the new benchmarks of the World Health Organization (WHO), the scientists write. According to the EU report, Berlin is the German city with the worst air. The capital occupies EU-wide place 219 out of 323 seats.

More than half of the premature deaths - good 178,000 - could have been theoretically prevented according to the information provided by the EEA, all Member States would have complied with the new benchmarks of the World Health Organization.

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