Articles | Volume 13, issue 14
Research article
24 Jul 2013
Research article |  | 24 Jul 2013

Model calculated global, regional and megacity premature mortality due to air pollution

J. Lelieveld, C. Barlas, D. Giannadaki, and A. Pozzer

Abstract. Air pollution by fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone (O3) has increased strongly with industrialization and urbanization. We estimate the premature mortality rates and the years of human life lost (YLL) caused by anthropogenic PM2.5 and O3 in 2005 for epidemiological regions defined by the World Health Organization (WHO). This is based upon high-resolution global model calculations that resolve urban and industrial regions in greater detail compared to previous work. Results indicate that 69% of the global population is exposed to an annual mean anthropogenic PM2.5 concentration of >10 μg m−3 (WHO guideline) and 33% to > 25 μg m−3 (EU directive). We applied an epidemiological health impact function and find that especially in large countries with extensive suburban and rural populations, air pollution-induced mortality rates have been underestimated given that previous studies largely focused on the urban environment. We calculate a global respiratory mortality of about 773 thousand/year (YLL ≈ 5.2 million/year), 186 thousand/year by lung cancer (YLL ≈ 1.7 million/year) and 2.0 million/year by cardiovascular disease (YLL ≈ 14.3 million/year). The global mean per capita mortality caused by air pollution is about 0.1% yr−1. The highest premature mortality rates are found in the Southeast Asia and Western Pacific regions (about 25% and 46% of the global rate, respectively) where more than a dozen of the most highly polluted megacities are located.

Final-revised paper