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Air Pollution: A Hidden Killer with Alarming Global Impact

Air pollution remains an invisible killer, claiming millions of lives and inflicting massive economic damage across the globe. Recent data from IQAir and Greenpeace Southeast Asia reveals the extent of this health crisis and the urgent need for change.

"The use of fossil fuels is responsible for 4.5 million premature deaths annually, costing $8 billion per day. It also results in 40,000 deaths of children under the age of 5 and causes illnesses related to PM2.5 that result in the loss of 1.8 billion workdays."

The organizations developed a cost estimator using the IQAir global air quality database to calculate the health and economic consequences of air pollution in major cities. In 2023, air pollution led to 1,300 deaths in Los Angeles, costing the city approximately $2.9 billion. This alarming trend is not isolated, as the cost of air pollution in 2020 for the world's top five most populous cities amounted to nearly 200,000 lives and $106 billion.The true cost of air pollution is staggering, affecting both public health and the global economy.

2020: Nearly 200,000 deaths in top 5 cities

  • Tokyo, Japan: 53,000 deaths, $57 billion USD (population: 37,000,000)

  • New Delhi, India: 57,000 deaths, $8.6 billion USD (population: 30,000,000)

  • Shanghai, China: 49,000 deaths, $23 billion USD (population: 27,100,000)

  • Sao Paulo, Brazil: 16,000 deaths, $7.8 billion USD (population: 22,000,000)

  • Mexico City, Mexico: 20,000 deaths, $10 billion USD (population: 21,800,000)

Despite the high upfront costs of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy, the long-term health and economic benefits far outweigh the investment. Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, are increasingly cost-competitive and sustainable alternatives. In the United States, renewable energy use doubled from 2000 to 2018 and is expected to grow by at least 7% in the coming year.

Investment in renewable energy is gradually replacing fossil fuels, helping to mitigate the deadly consequences of air pollution. However, much work remains to be done to ensure a cleaner and healthier future for all. By raising awareness and holding polluters and policymakers accountable, we can change the air pollution narrative and protect countless lives.

Article Source: The real cost of air pollution

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