The effects of particulate pollution have recently been in the news. In the UK the Daily Mail reported:
Toxins emitted by Britain’s booming number of diesel cars are fuelling a health crisis that kills 40,000 people a year, a landmark report warns today.
Ownership of diesel cars has more than trebled in the past 15 years – driven by misguided government tax incentives that identified diesel as a ‘green’ fuel.
Today’s report by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health warns that the health impact of Britain’s air pollution is greater than previously thought. It calculates that 40,000 people in Britain die early each year because of outdoor air pollution, a significant increase on the previous estimate of 29,000.
The estimates are UK specific but the problem is worldwide and caused, allegedly, by the small particulates in vehicle emissions (especially diesel vehicles). The culprits appear to be PM10s and PM2.5s which are categories of small particulate matter grouped by their size.
This is a large number of deaths. In the UK it would be between 5% and 10% of all deaths. If the estimates are correct other countries with lots of vehicles will also have many deaths.
So are the estimates correct? Are large numbers of people in the developed world dying from particulate air pollution?
NB air pollution worldwide is estimated to kill millions but most of this is caused indoors by wood and dung-burning fires. This question is specifically related to outdoor pollution caused by vehicle emissions.