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Air Pollution is Twice as Deadly as Car Accidents

Adele Peters

Being outside on a bad air day in Beijing is like smoking a pack of cigarettes, or more. What's the leading cause of death in Beijing now? Lung cancer.

Around the world, a new study says, at least 2.4 million people die every year from air pollution. The number's probably a lot higher now, since the data in the study stopped at 2000, and smog is getting a lot worse. (The number also doesn't include the people who die from indoor air pollution in the developing world, which is about as big).

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  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    Indoor air pollution is so interesting to think about. Would that be airborne mold, spores, bacteria?

    • Adele Peters

      The really big source of it comes from indoor fires for cooking in places like rural India. People cook on smoky fires, basically like campfires, and the soot gets trapped inside. Just like outdoor smog in Beijing, indoor smoke has health effects like smoking a pack or more of cigarettes a day....mostly ends up affecting women and children, since they're more likely to be inside and near the fire.

      • Alessandra Rizzotti

        Thanks for clarifying. In terms of outdoor pollution, it's pretty insane how I've noticed in Los Angeles the collection of dust and ash on my bikes within one day. My mom (a nurse) once operated on a man who had a lot of black in his lungs and he had never smoked. It was just from LA air pollution. It's scary how pollution can effect our body chemistry.