Earlier this summer, the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago released its latest report. This detailed the state of air pollution and its impacts on life expectancy across the world in 2020. The results were sobering.
Despite the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic slowdowns, in which many places recorded brief periods of cleaner air, global levels of particulate pollution (PM2.5) – the most harmful type of pollution for human health – in 2020 remained largely the same as the previous year. According to this latest AQLI data, we are losing more than two years off of the average human life expectancy across the world due to particulate pollution. This loss to the length of human life is more than the loss due to road injuries, HIV/AIDS, malaria and war combined.