Life Expectancy of PM2.5 and Unassociated Causes/Risks of Death, Global
Source: 2022 Annual Update, Air Quality Life Index, June 2022; State of Global Air Quality Funding, Clean Air Fund, 2021 and 2022; Data accessed from theglobalfund.org in November 2022
Measured in terms of life expectancy, particulate pollution is consistently the world’s greatest risk to human health, according to a report by EPIC’s Air Quality Life Index. While particulate pollution is set to reduce global average life expectancy by 2.2 years (relative to a world that met the WHO guideline), first-hand cigarette smoke, for instance, reduces global life expectancy by about 1.9 years. Alcohol use reduces life expectancy by 8 months; unsafe water and sanitation, 7 months; HIV/AIDS, 4 months; malaria, 3 months; and conflict and terrorism, just 9 days. Therefore, the impact of particulate pollution on life expectancy is comparable to that of smoking, more than three times that of alcohol and unsafe water and sanitation, six times that of HIV/AIDS, and 89 times that of conflict and terrorism.
Meanwhile, our investment in tackling air pollution lags far behind the scale of the problem. Globally, estimated annual funding to support cleaner air totals $158.09 million. This is in sharp contrast to other health threats. For example, after successful efforts instituted over decades, HIV/AIDS now has a smaller impact on global life expectancy, but still receives 45 times more financial support than air pollution at $7,154 million. Malaria has an even smaller impact on global life expectancy and receives 13.5 times more support than air pollution at $2,142.86 million.