In the air tonight: the deadliest pollutants that we breathe
Environment Air Pollution PM2.5 particles

In the air tonight: the deadliest pollutants that we breathe

Prof Dr Ilan Kelman
Prof Dr Ilan Kelman

In 10 seconds?  Scientists have identified the pollutants in the air that are most likely to lead to death. The hope is that the findings will inform policymakers in designing new public health strategies.

What’s the discovery? A study accepted for publication looks at the chemical components within small-size air pollution particles to determine how varying compositions affect death rates. Researchers examined seven chemicals with data spanning 1999-2017, gathered in 210 urban locations across five continents. They all contribute to death but higher proportions of ammonium were found to increase relative mortality risk the most. On the other end of the scale, higher proportions of nitrate decrease relative mortality risk the most.

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