People wanting to live longer and breathe in fresher, cleaner air may want to get out from mega cities in China, India, Indonesia and Europe and migrate to other regions in the world. A map recently released by NASA has specifically and graphically pinpointed where air pollution is at its deadliest around the globe.
A study published over the weekend in Nature Climate Change revealed that if the global nations get their acts together and work as one, at least up to three million premature deaths caused by air pollution alone could be avoided each year around the world by 2100.
Jason West, a University of North Carolina earth scientist and one of the study's lead authors, said reducing carbon emissions also create a parallel reduction effect in the production of "co-pollutants." These pollutants are the ones being factored at the causes of premature death.
Exactly how these pollutants kill? Through fine particulate matter, a mixture of ingredients, such as acids and dust particles. About only 2.5 micrometres in diameter or smaller, fine particles are the most dangerous because they can enter the lungs through the throat and nose.
Scientists link particulates to asthma, lung disease and heart attacks. When trapped by weather conditions, problems become worst over areas where they hang over for days or weeks.
"It is pretty striking that you can make an argument purely on health grounds to control climate change," Mr West said.
Based on the map, the heavily urbanised places in eastern China, India, Indonesia and Europe are by far the ones contributing much to the planet's air pollution problems. Based on the colours, these areas experience air pollution linked deaths by as much as 1,000 per square kilometre each year.
The researchers used the difference in pollution levels between 1850 and 2000 as a measure of human-caused air pollution. Dark brown areas have more premature deaths than light brown areas. Blue areas have experienced an improvement in air quality relative to 1850 and a decline in premature deaths.
In contrast, the southeastern United States saw PM2.5 concentrations decline relative to pre-industrial levels, as shown in blue. The decrease is being related to a decline in local biomass burning that has occurred over the last 160 years.
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