A recent study discovered a 30% worldwide increase in heart-related ailments and fatalities since 1990, largely attributable to air pollution, specifically minute particles. The research, published on Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association, revealed that men were more affected than women and underprivileged regions suffered a greater impact compared to affluent areas.
The primary offender identified in the study is particulate matter pollution, which consists of external elements like dirt, dust, soot, smoke emanating from coal- and gas-powered plants, vehicle exhaust, agriculture, dust, pollen, and wildfire smoke. Internal sources include the combustion of coal or wood for cooking or heating. These minuscule particles evade the body’s natural defenses, can be effortlessly inhaled, and find their way into the lungs and bloodstream, where they are known to cause various health issues and early death.
The researchers analyzed three decades’ worth of information from the Global Burden of Disease Study, conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Dr. Farshad Farzadfar of Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran, the senior author of the study, observed that specific cardiovascular disorders showed a 43% surge in men, compared to a 28% rise in women. During this 30-year period, there was an increase in death and disability resulting from outdoor particulate matter, while indoor-related incidents decreased. Wealthier regions demonstrated longer life spans but higher disability rates, whereas less affluent areas exhibited shorter lifespans with disability but increased early mortality.
Dr. Farzadfar provided insight into the reduction in the household air pollution burden from solid fuels, attributing it to improved access to and utilization of cleaner energy sources like refined biomass, ethanol, liquefied petroleum gas, solar, and electricity. Enhancements in stoves and ventilation also contributed to this improvement.
He emphasized the significance of the transition pattern from household pollution caused by solid fuels to outdoor, ambient pollution with particulate matter. According to Dr. Farzadfar, this shift has serious implications for public policy.