NASA predicts how many people will die due to air pollution

Danish scientist Ulas Im, together with his colleagues from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Research, predicted how people’s health would be affected by emissions of fine particulate matter into the air in the future. They came to the conclusion that even in the best case, up to 4 million people around the world would die due to diseases associated with them.

Fine emissions we usually see as smoke. Source:

Study of the impact of air pollution on health

Ulas Im from Aarhus University in Denmark recently, together with colleagues from NASA, published predictions of how often people would become ill in the future due to air pollution by particulate matter. And the results of their research were disappointing.

Industrial and transport air pollution is a global problem, the consequences of which we have not yet fully assessed. It is known that fine particles, which are only a few microns or even tens of nanometers in size, pose the greatest danger to human health. 

Due to their size, they easily penetrate into human lungs and get stuck in their mesh surface. This can lead to poor breathing and, in the long run, to cancer and a number of other serious diseases. It has been established, for example, that if you live next to a high road, then your chance of getting respiratory diseases during your life increases by 20 percent.

Where on Earth are the most dangerous emissions

Aarhus University has one of the world’s largest databases on how air pollution affects human health. On the other hand, NASA has the most data on how pollution has changed across the planet over the past decades and what will happen in the future. 

Together, Im and NASA have developed a global model of air pollution that includes climate change, measures to reduce particle emissions and changes in the composition of the population. The model shows a bleak future, especially for Asian countries. In Europe, the situation with emissions is not so tense.

For example, in Denmark, emissions of fine particles have decreased by 48 percent since 1990. However, the situation is very bad for China. The country is famous for not complying with environmental standards adopted around the world and often suffers from this.

In fact, the Chinese are doing a lot to reduce environmental damage. However, these changes are still happening too slowly. Im and his colleagues note that the population of the Celestial Empire is aging, which means it is becoming more vulnerable to diseases.

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