Although awareness around air pollution is on the rise, the serious side effects of pollution are still relatively unknown. In the past, pollution has been known to cause asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but more recently, studies have also linked air pollution to sleep issues, dementia and even death. Around the world, 4.2 million people die prematurely from pollution.
A premature death is defined as a death that occurs earlier than the average life expectancy of that country. The countries most affected by this are China and India, where air pollution accounts for half of the deaths. However, this issue is not concentrated to just one part of the globe—in 2015, air pollution was the fifth leading cause of death in the US.
Where does the deadly pollution come from? In the atmosphere, fine particulate matter is generated by coal burning, power plants and vehicles. Around the home, common sources include coal, wood and charcoal, used for cooking or heating.
As you may guess, these forms of air pollution tend to affect more people in newly industrialized and developing countries, where household emissions cause a third of pollution-related deaths. Additionally, research has shown that poorer countries are often disproportionately affected by fatal pollution. This effect is often due to wealthier countries exporting manufacturing (and the pollution it creates) to emerging economies with laxer environmental standards.
Consequently, countries with high levels of pollution are experiencing an increase in deaths due to air pollution. In India, for example, there was an increase of 133,000 annual deaths due to air particulates, according to the most recent data. Meanwhile, in developed countries, there is a downward trend. The United States has seen a 27% decrease in deaths caused by air pollution, while China’s rate of premature deaths is beginning to stabilize.
Whether you’re concerned about the air in your home, or looking to fight symptoms of asthma and allergies, an air purifier is one way to make sure you’re breathing cleaner air.