Research highlight

Environment: Trading pollution for human health


March 30, 2017

More than one million premature deaths in 2007 have been related to fine particulate matter pollution as a result of international trade and the transport of pollution through the atmosphere, according to a global analysis of air quality and premature mortality presented this week in Nature.

Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is thought to account for more than 90% of premature deaths from outdoor air pollution around the world. Although pollutants from local sources, such as industry and transportation, are thought to influence the susceptibility of nearby populations to conditions such as heart disease and lung cancer, the effects of pollution embodied in international trade on global health is not well understood.

Qiang Zhang and colleagues assessed 3.45 million global premature deaths in 2007 related to PM2.5 pollution and found that approximately 12 per cent of these deaths were related to pollutants emitted in a region of the world other than that in which the death occurred, while about 22 per cent were associated with goods and services produced in one region but consumed in another. The findings suggest that the health impacts of fine particulate matter pollution associated with international trade are greater than those associated with long-distance atmospheric pollutant transport.

Authors Qiang Zhang and Steven Davis will discuss their research. This will be followed by a Q&A session.

To attend this briefing you will need to pre-register by following the link here. Once you are registered, you will receive an email containing the dial-in details for the conference. You will also be provided with the option to save the details of the briefing to your calendar.

doi: 10.1038/nature21712

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