Polluted air kills nearly two million people in a year

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Breathing dirty air increases the risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and lung cancer, the study in the Lancet adds. It says the new figures highlight an urgent need to reduce exposure to fine particulate matter, called PM2.5, which originates from burning fossil fuels.

Around 2.5 billion of people living in urban areas across the globe are exposed to unhealthy particulate matter levels, the study finds.

Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, a nine-year-old girl who died following an asthma attack in 2013, became the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as a cause of death. She lived near a busy road in Lewisham, south-east London.

Researchers have estimated 61 in every 100,000 deaths in urban areas were attributable to PM2.5 in 2019.

Dr Susan Anenberg, from George Washington University, in the US, said: “Our study found that nitrogen dioxide puts children at risk of asthma ‑ and the problem is especially acute in urban areas.”

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