Health impacts
10 March 2020
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
Premature deaths
Cardiovascular disease (CVD)
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Loss of life expectancy from air pollution compared to other risk factors: a worldwide perspective

This article from the Cardiovascular Research magazine investigates excess mortality due to ambient air pollution and overexposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) on a global scale and compares it to other risk factors, using a new Global Exposure Mortality Model (GEMM).

Ambient air pollution is one of the major global health risks: 8.8 million deaths are caused by it every year. Long-term exposure to air pollution is responsible for significant excess mortality, in particular because it contributes to a sharp increase in the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. 


Through this article, using a new Global Exposure Mortality Model (GEMM), the researchers wanted to evaluate and quantify this excess mortality caused by exposure to PM2.5 and ozone pollution, by comparing it in particular to other risk factors. Thanks to GEMM, the effects of different sources of pollution are estimated and put into perspective (based on a distinction made between natural and anthropogenic emissions).


According to the results of the study, the loss of life expectancy associated with air pollution far exceeds that of HIV/AIDS, parasitic diseases, vector-borne diseases and other infectious diseases. It is also higher than that of smoking by one-third. 


Authors: Lelieveld, J., Pozzer, A., Pöschl, U., Fnais, M., Haines, A., Münzel, T. - Cardiovascular Research - 03/03/20