La pollution de l’air réduit l’espérance de vie mondiale de deux ans

According to a new study, air pollution would cause us to lose an average of two years of life expectancy. A much higher figure in certain regions of the world, including South Asia.

More 97% of the world’s population live in areas where the air pollution exceeds WHO recommended levels, according to the Energy Policy Institute (EPIC) at the University of Chicago. This exposure is not without consequences: air pollution with fine particles reduces global life expectancy by an average of two years. “Permanently reducing global air pollution to meet WHO recommendations would add 2.2 years to average life expectancy“, write the authors of the Air Quality Life Index report published on Tuesday, June 14.

Today, the WHO recommends that the density of PM2.5 not exceed 15 micrograms per cubic meter over a 24-hour period and that it remains below five micrograms per cubic meter in a year. Nevertheless, the report indicates that almost all regions of the world exceed this limit. With a record in Asia: the measured levels of fine particles are 15 times higher in Bangladesh, 10 times higher in India and 9 times higher in Nepal and Pakistan.

In these regions – particularly in India in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and in the capital New Delhi – diseases (respiratory, cardiovascular, etc.) caused by these particles reduce life expectancy by up to 10 years. In South Asia,where more than half of the pollution burden occurs“, a person could live up to five years longer if the level of fine particles met WHO standards.

As much mortality caused by pollution as by tobacco

As an indication, the researchers showed that the mortality caused by fine particle pollution had the same impact as that caused by tobacco consumptionmore than three times that of drinking alcohol and unsafe water, six times that of HIV and 89 times that of conflict and terrorism.

Despite the restrictions and the cessation of commercial activities linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, the fine particle level has not decreased in 2020.

And if since 2013, around 44% of the global increase in pollution has come from India, the situation is improving in other neighboring countries. For example in China, the pollution has decreased by 40% between 2013 and 2020, thus adding two years of life expectancy to its inhabitants. However, it remains reduced by 2.6 years on average.


  • Most of the world breathes unsafe air, taking more than 2 years off global life expectancy, Air Quality Life IndexJune 14, 2022

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