Particulate air pollution continues to cut global life expectancy by nearly two years as progress in some countries counterbalances worsening air quality in others, according to the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI).
The challenge of COVID-19 underscores more than any time in recent history how important it is to protect public health. Yet, as countries around the world race to develop a coronavirus vaccine, there is another, everyday killer causing billions of people to lead shorter and sicker lives: air pollution.
New data from the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), which converts particulate air pollution into its impact on life expectancy, reveals that particulate pollution was the greatest risk to human health before COVID-19. And without strong and sustained public policy, it will be after COVID-19.
The analysis finds that particulate pollution cuts global life expectancy by nearly two years, relative to what it would be if air quality met the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline. This has consistently been the case over the last two decades, with the average global decline in life expectancy from pollution remaining at two years as improvements in some countries like China were balanced out by worsening conditions in other countries.
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