Air pollution is cutting Canadian life expectancy by more than three months, a new study claims.
The annual State of Global Air report, published Wednesday by the U.S.-based Health Effects Institute and the University of British Columbia, cites air pollution as the fifth leading cause of early death worldwide - responsible for more deaths than malaria, road accidents, malnutrition or alcohol.
An interactive map shows years of life expectancy lost to air pollution in Canada as 0.2631.
“Air pollution exposures collectively reduce life expectancy by 20 months on average worldwide,” University of Texas assistant professor Joshua Apte wrote in the report.
To estimate average life expectancy, researchers calculated the difference between life expectancy and the average person’s likelihood from dying of different diseases at certain ages.
The research, which uses data up to the end of 2017, claims nearly one in ten deaths, or almost five million globally, were linked to air pollution that year.
While it does not give an exact figure for Canada, a map shows the country had less than 10,000 deaths attributable to air pollution in 2016.
The top five countries with the highest mortality rate due to air pollution were all in Asia: China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh.
Children in East Asia will have their lives shortened by nearly two years, the report said.
The U.S. had the seventh-highest mortality rate.
In total, the report says 147 million years of healthy life were lost in 2017 globally due to pollution.
To track outdoor air quality, the report focused on the concentrations of two pollutants: fine particle air pollution and ozone gas found near ground level .
This assessment also tracked exposure to household air pollution from burning fuels such as coal, wood or biomass for cooking and heating.
“Breathing polluted air has long been recognized as increasing a person’s chances of developing heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases, lung infections and cancer,” the report read.
But among some concerning trends, there were some bright spots.
“In China, one of the world’s most populous countries and one where air pollution exposures have historically been among the highest, major regulatory reforms appear to be driving substantial reductions in PM2.5 (particulate matter measuring less than 2.5 micrometers) exposure,” the conclusion read.
“In addition, the number of households cooking with solid fuels is declining in many parts of the world.
“Finally, recent decades have seen substantial reductions in childhood mortality and significant improvements in life expectancy overall, a testament to a number of public health successes.”
--- With files from AFP