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An estimated 99,000 deaths in 2012 were attributable to long-term exposure to harmful fine particles, known as PM2.5, emitted from fossil fuel sources such as vehicle engines. The analysis puts the figure much higher than 2016 estimates of 40,000 early deaths linked to air pollution by the Royal College of Physicians.
Fossil fuel pollution was linked to 8.7 million deaths globally in 2018.
The latest review was conducted by researchers from Harvard University in the US, in collaboration with the University of Birmingham, the University of Leicester and University College London (UCL).
Professor Eloise Marais, from UCL, said: “Our study adds to the mounting evidence that air pollution from ongoing dependence on fossil fuels is detrimental to global health. We can’t in good conscience continue to rely on fossil fuels, when we know that there are such severe effects on health and viable, cleaner alternatives.”
The scientists used a model which mapped where pollution is and where residents live to “know more exactly what people are breathing”, according to co-author Karn Vohra.
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The researchers also developed a model that linked the concentration levels of particles from fossil fuel emissions to people’s health.
They found a higher mortality rate for long-term exposure to the pollution, including at lower concentrations.
Writing in Environmental Research, the scientists said the findings sent a clear message on the health benefits of moving away from fossil fuels to cleaner energy.
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