MADRID, (EUROPA PRESS). – The latest 2021 Air Quality of Life Index (AQLI) from the University of Chicago (United States) has shown that as global pollution increased in 2021, so did its burden on health human and that this impact is distributed unevenly in the world, being more prominent in countries such as Bangladesh, India or China.
If the world permanently reduced fine particulate pollution (PM2.5) to meet World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, the average person would add 2.3 years to their life expectancy, or a combined total of 17.8 thousand millions of years of life saved worldwide.
These data make it clear that particle pollution remains the greatest external risk to human health in the world, with an impact on life expectancy comparable to that of smoking, more than three times greater than that of alcohol consumption and contaminated water. , and more than five times higher than that of transportation injuries, such as car accidents. However, the pollution challenge around the world is hugely uneven.
“Three quarters of the impact of air pollution on global life expectancy occurs in just six countries: Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, China, Nigeria and Indonesia, where people lose between one and more than six years of life due to to the air they breathe,” says Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor of Economics and creator of the AQLI with colleagues at the University of Chicago Energy Policy Institute (EPIC), Michael Greenstone.
In fact, many polluted countries lack basic infrastructure against air pollution. Asia and Africa are the two most poignant examples. These two countries contribute 92.7 percent of the years of life lost due to pollution.
However, only 6.8 and 3.7 percent of governments in Asia and Africa, respectively, provide their citizens with fully open air quality data. Furthermore, only 35.6 and 4.9 percent of countries in Asia and Africa, respectively, have air quality standards, the most basic component of policies.
Today’s collective investments in global air quality infrastructure also do not match where air pollution is taking the greatest toll in human life. While there is a large global fund for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis that spends four billion dollars annually on these problems, there is no equivalent set of coordinated resources for air pollution.
In fact, the entire African continent receives less than $300,000 in philanthropic funds for air pollution (ie, the current median price of a single-family home in the United States). Only $1.4 million goes to Asia, outside of China and India. Meanwhile, Europe, the United States and Canada receive $34 million, according to the Clean Air Fund.
“Timely, reliable and open air quality data can be the backbone of civil society and government efforts to achieve clean air, providing the information that people and governments lack and enabling policy decisions.” more informed,” says AQLI director Christa Hasenkopf.