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Air pollution kills over 20,500 people every year in UK

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Air pollution kills more than 20,500 people every year in the UK, research suggests. reports citing British media.

Scientists behind a new Lancet report reveal microscopic particles released in vehicle emissions cause tens of thousands of Britons to die too soon.

Known as particulate matter (PM), the substances “float” unseen in the atmosphere.

Particles smaller than 2.5μm (PM2.5) - 400th of a millimeter - are thought to be particularly damaging due to them getting “lodged” in the lungs.

Inhaling the microscopic particles has been linked to everything from allergies and “lung dysfunction” to heart disease and evendeath, according to a government report.

PM2.5 comes about from the burning of coal and other fossil fuels for “electricity, transport and household heating”, the scientists wrote in the 2019 Lancet Countdown on health and climate change report.

Between 2016 and 2018, carbon dioxide emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels rose by 2.6%.

On a global scale, exposure to PM2.5 is “the largest environmental risk factor for premature mortality”.

Inhaling these microscopic substances is said to have caused 2.9 million people worldwide to die too soon from cardiovascular or respiratory diseases in 2016 alone.

Of these, more than 440,000 deaths are thought to have been down to coal. And children may be particularly vulnerable.

More than 90% of youngsters are said to be exposed to PM2.5 levels above the World Health Organization’s safe limit.

This has been linked to lung damage, reduced organ growth and pneumonia. In later life, exposed youngsters may be more at risk of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

2019.11.15 / 13:39
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