Fossil fuel-driven particulate air pollution cuts global average life expectancy by 1.8 years per person, according to a new pollution index and accompanying report produced by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC). The Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) establishes particulate pollution as the single greatest threat to human health globally, with its effect on life expectancy exceeding that of communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, behavioral killers such as cigarette smoking, and even war. . .
Seventy-five percent of the global population, or 5.5 billion people, live in areas where particulate pollution exceeds the WHO guideline. The AQLI reveals that India and China, which make up 36% of the world’s population, account for 73% of all years of life lost due to particulate pollution.
On average, people in India would live 4.3 years longer if their country met the WHO guideline—expanding the average life expectancy at birth there from 69 to 73 years.
In the United States, about a third of the population lives in areas not in compliance with the WHO guideline. Those living in the country’s most polluted counties could expect to live up to one year longer if pollution met the WHO guideline.
Globally, the AQLI reveals that particulate pollution reduces average life expectancy by 1.8 years, making it the greatest global threat to human health. By comparison, first-hand cigarette smoke leads to a reduction in global average life expectancy of about 1.6 years.
Other risks to human health have even smaller effects: alcohol and drugs reduce life expectancy by 11 months; unsafe water and sanitation take off 7 months; and HIV/AIDS, 4 months. Conflict and terrorism take off 22 days. So, the impact of particulate pollution on life expectancy is comparable to that of smoking, twice that of alcohol and drug use, three times that of unsafe water, five times that of HIV/AIDS, and more than 25 times that of conflict and terrorism. . . .
In related local news, the wind shifted overnight and it started raining early this morning here in the Bay Area, finally clearing out the smoke (esp. PM2.5) from the 'Camp' fire that has given us a record number of 'Spare the Air' days in a row (12 or 13, I forget which) and (thankfully briefly) the world's worst air quality. It's sooo nice to be able to take a deep breath again and not smell/taste smoke, cough or feel a scratch in my throat. We appreciate/need the rain, too, although it was the wind that was responsible for clearing most of the air.