Air pollution causes about 4 million premature deaths each year. But it is not evenly distributed all over the world. That’s according to new research by Australian and Japanese scientists. According to their findings, the G-20 countries are responsible for up to half of these deaths.
The scientific study of scientists published in Nature Connections, investigated the effect of worldwide consumption on particulate matter in the air. The focus was mainly on particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, the so-called PM2.5. These molecules are responsible for cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. As a result, millions of people die prematurely, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
Rich countries may take steps to clean up the atmosphere within their borders, but its consumption abroad is a different story. The researchers calculated the PM2.5 footprint of their consumption at home and abroad based on data from 2010 for each of the G20 countries. The result: The G20 countries were responsible for about 1.94 million premature deaths (+/- 300,000) in 2010. Of these, 78,600 were children. Thus, the consumption behavior of 28 people in the G20 countries costs one person in their lifetime.
At the top of the list are China, India, Russia and the United States. The latter takes the lead when it comes to causing the largest number of deaths outside its borders. Therefore, the researchers concluded that the G20 countries should take responsibility for these deaths outside their national borders and put in place policies to modify their consumption habits and reduce the number of deaths caused by air pollution.
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