New research reveals impact of air pollution on life expectancy in Saudi Arabia and around the world
Air pollution shortens an average Saudi’s life by nearly 1.5 years, according to a new report.
The study by US-based scientists suggests that better air quality could lead to a significant extension of human life around the world.
Researchers from University of Texas at Austin said that if PM2.5 concentrations worldwide were limited to the World Health Organisation’s air quality guideline concentration of 10 microgrammes per square cubic metre, the global life expectancy would be on average 0.59 year longer.
The report found that the life expectancy impact of ambient PM2.5 is especially large in polluted countries such as Bangladesh (1.87 years), Egypt (1.85 years), Pakistan (1.56 years), India (1.53 years) Saudi Arabia (1.48 years), Nigeria (1.28 years), and China (1.25 years).
Researchers looked at outdoor air pollution from particulate matter (PM) smaller than 2.5 microns. These fine particles can enter deep into the lungs, and breathing PM2.5 is associated with increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, respiratory diseases and cancer.
PM2.5 pollution comes from power plants, cars and trucks, fires, agriculture and industrial emissions.
The team used data from the Global Burden of Disease Study to measure PM2.5 air pollution exposure and its consequences in 185 countries.
Joshua Apte, who led the study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, said: “We were able to systematically identify how air pollution also substantially shortens lives around the world. What we found is that air pollution has a very large effect on survival - on average about a year globally.”