Air pollution could kill as many as 60,000 in 2030, study says

Air pollution is to take as many as 60,000 lives in 2030 and this figure will reach to over quarter of a million in 2100, a new study has claimed.

Researchers have said that hotter climates resulting from climate change and global warming will speed up chemical reactions in the air that are harmful for humans and thereby take more and more lives each year. Locations that get drier may also have worse air pollution because of less removal by rain and increased fires and windblown dust. As trees respond to higher temperatures, they will also emit more organic pollutants, the researchers said.

“As climate change affects air pollutant concentrations, it can have a significant impact on health worldwide, adding to the millions of people who die from air pollution each year,” said lead researcher Jason West, Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

For the study which appeared in the journal Nature Climate Change, the team used an ensemble of several global climate models to determine the number of premature deaths that would occur due to ozone and particulate matter in 2030 and 2100.

For each model, the team assessed the projected changes in ground-level air pollution that could be attributed to future climate change. They then overlaid these changes spatially on the global population, accounting for both population growth and expected changes in susceptibility to air pollution.

Five out of eight models predicted there will be more premature deaths in 2030, and seven of nine models in 2100.

“Our finding that most models show a likely increase in deaths is the clearest signal yet that climate change will be detrimental to air quality and health,” West noted.

In addition to exacerbating air pollution-related deaths, climate change is expected to affect health through changes in heat stress, access to clean water and food, severe storms and the spread of infectious diseases, the researchers said.