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Car Emissions Killing Millions in China and India

By John Vidal, The Guardian

An explosion of car use has made fast-growing Asian cities the epicentre of global air pollution and become, along with obesity, the world's fastest growing cause of death according to a major study of global diseases.

In 2010, more than 2.1 million people in Asia died prematurely from air pollution, mostly from the minute particles of diesel soot and gasses emitted from cars and trucks. Other causes of air pollution include construction and industry. Of these deaths, says the study published in The Lancet, 1.2 million were in east Asia and China, and 712,000 in south Asia, including India.

Smog in central Shanghai.
Credit: oliverlaumann/flickr.

Worldwide, a record 3.2 million people a year died from air pollution in 2010, compared with 800,000 in 2000. It now ranks for the first time in the world's top 10 list of killer diseases, says the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study.

The unexpected figure has shocked scientists and public health groups. David Pettit, director of the southern California air program with the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), said: "That's a terribly high number — and much more people than previously thought. Earlier studies were limited to data that was available at the time on coarse particles in urban areas only."

Anumita Roychowdhury, head of air pollution at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a New Delhi-based environmental group, said: "There is hard evidence now to act urgently to reduce the public health risks to all, particularly children, elderly and the poor. No-one can escape toxic air."

The full effects of air pollution on health in Asian cities may not be seen for years, she said. "Toxic effects like cancer surface after a long latency period. Therefore, exposure to air pollution will have to be reduced today to reduce the burden of disease," she said.

According to the report, by a consortium of universities working in conjunction with the U.N., 65 percent of all air pollution deaths are now in Asia, which lost 52 million years of healthy life from fine particle air pollution in 2010. Air pollution also contributes to higher rates of cognitive decline, strokes, and heart attacks.

If the figures for outdoor air pollution are combined with those of indoor air pollution, caused largely by people cooking indoors with wood, dirty air would now rank as the second highest killer in the world, behind only blood pressure.

Household air pollution from burning solid fuels such as coal or wood for cooking fell noticeably, but not having clean cooking and heating fuels remains the leading risk in south Asia.

Fine particle air pollution in India is far above the legal limits of 100 microgramme per cubic metre. This can rise to nearly 1,000 microgrammes during festivals like Diwali.

Improvements in car and fuel technology have been made since 2000 but these are nullified by the sheer increase in car numbers. Nearly 18 million are expected to be sold this year alone. In Delhi, there are now around 200 cars per 1,000 people compared with 70-100 per 1,000 population in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and director-general of the Energy and Resources Institute in New Delhi, this week suggested the need to "demand restraint measures" in Delhi, to put a check on the growing number of cars so that there was a check on pollution.

Reprinted with permissin from The Guardian.

Comments

By TomGillilan
on December 23rd, 2012

IF YOU TRAVEL TO LOS ANGELES BRING YOUR OWN AIR AND A GAS MASK

Hundreds of thousands and more cook with charcoal and wood every day of the year even though every home has natural gas and electricity already.

DOCTOR DEATH IN CHARGE OF AIR QUALITY AT EPA

Reply to this comment

By Parwinder kaur (Guwahati/assam/india)
on December 27th, 2012

When is the world going to wake up ? The causes of disturbance to nature is known . . . . But people are waiting for others to take the first step , because we are so much inclined towards our necessities ... Not luxuries ! !
We know everything BUT KNOW NOTHING !! !!
WE WILL DEMOLISH OUR OWN CIVILIZATION . . . .

Reply to this comment

By Bernd
on January 2nd, 2013

Correct, I wonder since a long time but nobody really complains that they are suffocated, by pollution and by self inflicted agriculture fires.

Here
http://www.eosnap.com/fires/smoke-continues-to-plague-india-and-bangladesh/

are images collected from fires in the region of India since about mid November 2012. (scroll a bit around by the “fires” for more fires)

Now, normally fires and smoke will not be visible from Satellites, but huge smoke columns like these from India are well seen, for approximately the last 6 weeks, covering several states including India. I guess I do not need to stop my bad habit the cigarette smoking, my “smokes” are never seen on Satellite.

However, the bad thing is, those fires are affecting not only those in India, also the neighbouring countries, maybe even us (wherever we live), because smoke travels long distances through the atmosphere (what goes up, comes down), pollutes the world (CO2 warming), causes therefore health risks to anybody around the globe (maybe unseen by satellite and slower than in India itself), either through the lung, or an tree that falls on someone’s head, because they caused it indirect with a tornado, with their agriculture habit in India.

Maybe I should also stop smoking, but I got so used to the smoking habit!

Is there a “drug” related smoke habit as well in India for these agriculture burnings?
Does the Indian population - like I myself as an addict on cigarettes - as an direct inhaling population is in dire need of smoke inhalation and wants that smoke haze and cloud in their body?

So what I want to say here is, cars and industry is one contributor, but there are also other ones. The cars nobody can stop on the roads, but yes, there must be much more done against their car pollution, but fires even visible from the orbit is dioxide and monoxide and so addictive that they still burn everything, and pollute even all their neighbours?

Have their country - here in this case India - neighbours ask to be suffocated?

Once we all start thinking in that direction, we will live healthier, longer and better!

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