Small polluting air particles cause 2,500 deaths and chronic disease

Pollution also cost the economy up to $1.75 billion, or 0.59% of the Gross National Product.

November 17, 2016 02:50
1 minute read.
sand storm

Beachgoers bath at the Mediterranean Sea during a sandstorm in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Small particles of pollutants in the air kill 3.7 million people around the globe each year, with estimates of the annual Israeli death toll at 2,552, according to a statistical study just published in the Israel Journal of Health Policy Research.

Besides deaths resulting here from ambient particulate matter, the pollution also cost the economy up to $1.75 billion, or 0.59% of the Gross National Product.

While ozone pollution can cause deaths, the vast majority of fatalities and many chronic diseases come from ambient particulate matter from road traffic, industry and generation of electricity, said Health Ministry statistician Dr. Gary Ginsberg and colleagues. They based their estimates on published monthly data last year from 52 non-roadside monitoring stations.

The figures were crossed with medical data on ischemic heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer in adults as well as on acute lower respiratory infection in children under five years old.

Other diseases and conditions promoted and affected by air pollution are type-II diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and low birth weight; the effects of pollution on these were obtained from Israeli hospitalization data.

While some interventions would have to be on a national scale (such as limits on vehicle emissions), others might be aimed at local “hot spots” of industry or vehicular pollution where a significantly large population is being exposed, Ginsberg and colleagues wrote.

“The considerable mortality and morbidity burden attributable to ambient particulate matter pollution cries out for the establishment of an interministerial plan to identify and implement those intervention strategies that are cost effective, in order to decrease the considerable burden of mortality and morbidity, in both human and monetary terms, from ambient air pollution in Israel,” the authors concluded.

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