A new study reveals air pollution is the cause of more deaths around the world than smoking. Researchers suggest urgent action needs to be taken to avoid the practice of burning fossil fuels.
In 2015, there were 8.8 million extra deaths due to air pollution, according to researchers from Germany and Cyprus. On the other hand, the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed smoking kills around seven million people globally every year.
"This means that air pollution causes more extra deaths a year than tobacco smoking, which the World Health Organization estimates was responsible for an extra 7.2 million deaths in 2015," senior author Thomas Munzel, a professor at the University Medical Centre Mainz in Germany, told a news portal. Adding, "Smoking is avoidable, but air pollution is not."
In Europe, the study's findings revealed 790,000 deaths were the result of air pollution. Close to 40 and 80 per cent of these cases were from heart attacks and strokes.
"Since most of the particulate matter and other air pollutants in Europe come from the burning of fossil fuels, we need to switch to other sources for generating energy urgently," study's co-author Professor Jos Lelieveld of the Max-Plank Institute for Chemistry in Mainz and the Cyprus Institute Nicosia in Cyprus, told a news portal. Adding, "When we use clean, renewable energy, we are not just fulfilling the Paris Agreement to mitigate the effects of climate change, we could also reduce air pollution-related death rates in Europe by up to 55 per cent."
The study's findings were originally published in the European Heart Journal.