A shocking recent study shows how the slow transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy continues to kill humans and spread pollution. Researchers conducted a comprehensive analysis of the sources and health effects of air pollution for more than 200 countries for the year 2017, and found that 1.05 million deaths could have been avoided over the years. globally, by eliminating fossil fuel combustion.
Coal, a type of fossil fuel, was responsible for more than half of this total, according to the international team of study researchers.
The researchers refer to PM2.5, particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, about 3% of the diameter of a human hair.
One of the biggest sources of PM2.5 is coal fires, which can settle in the lungs and enter the bloodstream, causing fatal lung and heart disease. The team revealed that the highest number of deaths in 2017 due to PM2.5 occurred in China and India.
Completely eliminating the burning of coal, as well as oil and natural gas, in China and India could reduce the global burden of disease PM2.5 by about 20%.
The study was led by Professor Randall Martin at Washington University in St. Louis and Michael Brauer, professor of public health at the University of British Columbia.
“PM2.5 is the world’s leading environmental risk factor for mortality,” Professor Martin said. “Our main goal is to understand its sources.”
The results also reveal the industrial sectors responsible for the deadly PM2.5 emissions, namely agriculture, energy, transportation and waste, among others.
Globally, these emissions have caused fatal conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), respiratory infections, lung cancer, stroke and heart disease.