Low air pollution is more dangerous than previously thought

The latest WHO estimates (2016) show that more than 4.2 million people die prematurely every year due to long-term exposure to particulate air pollution.

A recent study by researchers at Canada’s McGill University (McGill) suggests that the number of annual global deaths due to fine particulate matter in the air, often referred to as PM2.5, could be much higher than previously thought. This is because researchers have found that the risk of mortality increases even at very low levels of PM2.5 outdoors, which were not previously thought to be lethal.

These microscopic toxins cause a number of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as cancer.

“We found that outdoor PM2.5 can be responsible for up to 1.5 million additional deaths worldwide each year due to exposure at very low concentrations that have not been previously estimated.”

The researchers came to this conclusion by combining twenty-five years of data on the health and mortality of seven million Canadians with information on outdoor PM2.5 levels across the country.

Canada is a country with low levels of outdoor PM2.5, making it an ideal place to study the health effects of low concentrations.

The knowledge gained in Canada was then used to update the minimum scale used to describe the change in mortality risk with exogenous PM2.5 levels.

The results showed a better understanding of how air pollution affects health on a global scale.

The World Health Organization recently set ambitious new guidelines for average outdoor particulate matter pollution and halved its previous guidelines from concentrations of 10 micrograms to concentrations of 5 micrograms per cubic meter.

One downside is that the global health benefits of adhering to the new WHO guidelines are likely to be much greater than previously thought. The next steps are to stop focusing solely on particle mass and start looking more closely at particle formation because that some particles are potentially more harmful. than others. If we can better understand this, it may allow us to more effectively design regulatory actions to improve public health.”

Source: Medical Express

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