Life Can Be Cut Short by Two Years Due to Air Pollution, Study Shows

The world continues to suffer from the dangerous effects of air pollution.

In a report that came out in June, EPIC (the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago) shared evidence proving that air pollution cuts short life expectancy by around 2.2 years. Summed up by the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), the collective total of years lost is 17 billion.

These numbers tell you several things: that toxic air has become just as dangerous as smoking, 89 times deadlier than terrorism, six times more devastating than HIV and AIDS, and has three times more negative effects than unsafe water and alcoholism.

EPIC utilised satellite data in checking PM2.5 (particulate matter) levels. These particles can easily enter the lungs and damage them.

Their calculations used previous research that showed how constant exposure to 10µg/m3 of PM2.5 can equate to a decrease in life expectancy by at least one year.

The biggest impacts were detected in India and other parts of South Asia, particularly in areas that have been exposed to high levels of air pollution. In India alone, toxic air has been steadily increasing since the year 2013.

AQLI creator and Milton Friedman Distinguished Professor in Economics Michael Greenstone compared the air pollution situation to a global emergency involving Martians landing on Earth to spray a substance that led to people losing over two years of their life expectancy. The only difference, he said, is that humans are the ones that “spray” toxic substances into the air.

He further indicated the importance of producing stringent and updated policies. People should also be willing to work and change if air pollution targets are to be met. The WHO guidelines on air quality should be the basis of the update, and the need is urgent. Exposure to toxic air significantly impacts the environment and human health.

What makes air pollution dangerous is the fact that it cannot be avoided. It’s not an illness that can be treated with medicine or cigarettes that you can evade by quitting smoking. You need to breathe air every moment, every day. Air pollution is not something that you can simply shut off. This explains why the toxic air situation is global and affects anyone regardless of age, class, nationality, or religion.

Air pollution and diesel emissions

Particulate matter comes from various sources, including sea salt, dust, and other natural sources (18%); human activities (22%); and fossil fuel combustion (60%). When particulate matter is released into the air, it is identified according to its size. The smaller the size is, the easier it is for the pollutant to get inside the human body.

PM10 can go through the hair in your nostrils and travel to the respiratory tract and the lungs. PM2.5, on the other hand, can get easily invade the bloodstream and cause blood flow problems that can lead to adverse effects (such as heart attack and stroke).

These effects are one of the reasons why diesel emissions have been in the news since 2015, when the Dieselgate scandal first erupted.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board, the Volkswagen Group integrated defeat devices on VW and Audi vehicles sold in the American market. This equipment is used to cheat regulatory tests by temporarily reducing emission levels to within the World Health Organization’s mandated limits.

While reducing emission levels sounds good,  the defeat devices only suppress a vehicle’s emission levels during emission tests. When the vehicle is driven on real roads; it starts releasing NOx or nitrogen oxide emissions in massive quantities that far exceed the EU and WHO legal limits.

Volkswagen has spent billions on fines, legal costs, fees, and vehicle recalls. Other carmakers that are involved in the scam, which became known as the Dieselgate fiasco, have also spent billions. BMW, Vauxhall, and Mercedes-Benz have all been implicated in the diesel emissions fraud.

Along with BMW and Mercedes, VW was also caught colluding in delaying technology for cleaner emissions.

These actions have significantly contributed to the global air pollution dilemma. Their actions have caused numerous inconveniences among affected car owners and have had life-threatening effects on them and the people around them.

NOx is a reactive gas that has environmental and health impacts. Acid rain, smog, and ground-level ozone all affect vegetation.

Increased frequency of depression and anxiety episodes and reduced cognitive abilities are also caused by exposure to nitrogen oxide emissions.

The most devastating effects on health, however, are conditions that have the greatest potential to cut short a person’s life: breathing problems like asthma, chronic lung function reduction, and asphyxiation are just some of the life-threatening impacts. Air pollution is also known to cause cardiovascular issues and premature death. Reports and studies over the years showed that NOx emissions are linked to around 400,000 premature deaths annually.

Car owners affected by the diesel emissions scandal are encouraged to bring forward a claim against their vehicle’s manufacturer.

It’s not a one-day process, but making an emissions claim against BMW, Mercedes, or any erring vehicle manufacturer can be easy if you know what to do. You can work with an emissions expert to help you with the process.

First, you’ll have to verify if you are qualified to make an emissions claim. Get in touch with – they have all the information you’ll need before you can get your case going.

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