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Five National Academies Call for Global Compact on Air Pollution and Health

Collection launched: Dec 16, 2019

Air pollution causes 7 million premature deaths each year, and deaths due to ambient air pollution are on track to double by 2050. Yet, air pollution is accepted by many governments as an unavoidable consequence of economic growth. Prevention of air pollution is underfunded in official development assistance and no major foundation has made air pollution its priority.

Five national academies of science and medicine have now weighed in on the dangers of air pollution for human health. The science academies of Brazil, Germany, South Africa, and the USA and the US National Academy of Medicine have examined the evidence associating particulate air pollution to heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive lung disease, lung cancer, premature birth, diabetes, and brain development. The Academies find this evidence to be unequivocal. They therefore call for urgent action to curb air pollution and propose adoption of a new Global Compact on Air Pollution and Health.

The final word from the academies is that economic growth that accepts air pollution and ignores its health and environmental impacts is unsustainable and unethical.

Funding for this article was provided by the US National Academy of Sciences and the US National Academy of Medicine