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The Next Mass Global Killer: Urban Air Pollution

Fiona Harvey delivers the findings of a new report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), that predicts urban air pollution is set to become the biggest environmental cause of premature death in the coming decades.
March 19, 2012, 8am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Replacing such mass health hazards as poor sanitation and a lack of clean drinking water, the report predicts that "by 2050, there could be 3.6 million premature deaths a year from exposure to particulate matter, most of them in China and India." The news isn't much better for developed countries either, as exposure to ground-level ozone will severely impact public health.

The report is seen as a call to action to head off the anticipated effects of climate change, loss of biodiversity, strains on water supplies and the health impacts of pollution.

According to Harvey, "the OECD study alsos [sic] said that there are some actions that governments can take quickly to tackle some of the key problems. For instance, many governments treat diesel fuel for vehicles differently than petrol for tax purposes, with tax breaks that encourage the take-up of diesel. But although diesel vehicle fuel produces lower greenhouse gas emissions than petrol, it is far worse for spewing out small particulate matter, which is bad for urban pollution."

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Published on Thursday, March 15, 2012 in The Guardian
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