A new study published on March 3rd in the Journal of Cardiovascular Research has found that ambient air pollution is one of the greatest threats to humanity in 2020.
The global study found that outdoor air pollution reduces life expectancy by an average of 3 years. In comparison, cigarette smoking reduces the life expectancy of smokers by 2.2 years, while violence in metropolitan areas reduces life expectancy by .3 years.
The research team found that outdoor air pollution is responsible for millions of premature deaths per year, with the biggest killer being coronary heart disease.
Lung cancer, respiratory infections and chronic obstructive lung disease took second place in causes of death resulting from air pollution, far more than any virus related deaths this year.
The study concluded that if outdoor air pollution was reduced, more than 5.5 million premature deaths could be prevented each year.
Changes in city planning regarding locations of roadways and homes were among the recommendations listed in the study which could reduce health concerns related to air pollution.
The World Health Organization has attributed 29% of all global deaths from lung cancer to outdoor air pollution, with particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) posing the greatest danger to citizens.