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  • Sheryll Mericido

Air pollution remains the largest global health risk

Singapore, August 29, 2023, Air pollution continues to be the biggest external risk to human health worldwide, with Asia and Africa bearing the brunt of the effects, new research revealed today, according to Reuters. This is true even if China has made advances. According to the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago's annual Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, China, Nigeria, and Indonesia have the greatest concentration of air pollution's harmful health consequences. According to the analysis, global average life expectancy would increase by 2.3 years, saving a total of 17.8 billion life years, if dangerous airborne particles (PM2.5) were reduced to levels advised by the World Health Organization (WHO). While global pollution levels have decreased marginally on average over the past ten years, China has been mostly responsible for this improvement, as their 10-year "war on pollution" has resulted in a drop in PM2.5 of more than 40% since 2013. While China has had remarkable success in its war against air pollution, the trend in other parts of the world is going in the opposite direction," said Christa Hasenkopf, director of AQLI. According to her, the average life expectancy in the region has decreased by almost five years as a result of an increase in PM2.5 of approximately 10% since 2013. Particulate pollution in central and western Africa was becoming a significant health issue comparable to HIV/AIDS and malaria due to rising energy use. With 29 micrograms per cubic meter on average in 2022, China's PM2.5 concentrations are still much higher than the WHO's recommended level of 5 micrograms. While advancements in China have helped increase average life expectancy by 2.2 years since 2013, if the nation meets the WHO benchmark, it may increase by an additional 2.5 years.

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