18,000 people die every day worldwide as a result of air pollution just counting the “old set” of five standard diseases tracked; 7.6 percent of global deaths

May 23, 2019

How pro-life are we?  18,000 people die every day worldwide as a result of air pollution just counting the “old set” of five standard diseases tracked; 7.6 percent of global deaths, mainly from our vehicles.  As Catholics, parishes, dioceses, are we willing to stop buying combustion vehicles?

Ambient PM2·5 was the fifth-ranking mortality risk factor in 2015. Exposure to ambient air pollution increases sickness and death (morbidity and mortality) and shortens life expectancy.1, 2.  

Doctors have concluded “there is no safe level” of particulates; effects, such as those of particulate matter exposure on the kidneys, are seen starting at “low” levels, and rise linearly with exposure. Contrary to US thoughts that our air is better, the pollution in some US cities (Denver is one) is twice as bad as Beijing on some days, and recent research shows how even short term exposure and low level long term exposure cause measurable long-term harm.  A recent report by the American Lung Association estimates the costs of climate and air pollution from passenger vehicles in California to be $15 billion annually.(Holmes-Gen, B. 2016)  A comprehensive global study by the American College of Chest Physicians, claims that air pollution may be damaging every organ and virtually every cell in the human body, that harmful effects occur on a continuum of dosage and even at levels below air quality standards previously considered to be safe (CHEST, May 2019). Immune cells think a [pollution particle] is a bacteria, go after it and try to kill it by releasing enzymes and acids, spreading inflammatory proteins around the body, affecting the brain, the kidneys, the pancreas, all organs and systems.  The body has evolved to defend itself against infections but not pollution. While health effects and toxicity from fossil fuel pollution has been known since the 1940s and 1950s, there are now more than 70,000 scientific papers to demonstrate that air pollution is affecting our health.  18,000 people die every day worldwide as a result of air pollution just counting the “old set” of five standard diseases tracked; 7.6 percent of global deaths come from air pollution effects in these five categories alone (heart disease, strokes, lung disease, lung cancer, and lower respiratory infections).  In the US, vehicle emissions are the biggest contributor to the 200,000 premature deaths from air pollution every year.(Chu, MIT, 2013). As Gov. Schwarzenegger has noted that such “pollution kills more people every year than wars, car accidents, and homicides combined.” This is before examining a much wider range of diseases and health effects that physicians know about now.  Health, well-being and air quality are concerns to people across the political and age spectrum.  Air quality concerns are also the premier driver of decarbonization in many cities.