This is the unseen factor pushing the COVID-19 death count even higher

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15% of global COVID-19 deaths could be linked to air pollution exposure. Even before the spread of COVID-19, scientists had declared we were in the midst of an air pollution pandemic , with bad air responsible for 8.8 million premature deaths every year. Now, researchers better understand how these two crises are converging. Across the world, more than 1.1 million people have died of COVID-19, and 15% of those deaths, researchers estimate, could be attributed to long-term air pollution exposure. Read Full Story

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The most polluted parts of the U.S. are more at risk for coronavirus deaths

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So far, someone who has lived in a county with only a microgram more air pollution per cubic meter is 15% more likely to die than someone in a county with cleaner air. If you’ve spent a long time living in an area with high rates of air pollution and you’re infected with the new coronavirus, you may be at greater risk of dying. There could be a link between long-term exposure to high levels of PM 2.5 pollution—the tiny particles of soot that come from sources like car engines and coal gas power plants—and higher death rates from COVID-19. Read Full Story

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This map shows how air pollution changed in 2020

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The pandemic brought some big improvements—but many cities still had unsafe air. As the world went into lockdown a year ago, air pollution plummeted. But the cleaner air didn’t last. For one, in places like California, Oregon, and Washington, record-breaking wildfires meant that at least temporarily, 77 of the world’s most polluted cities were in the United States. Read Full Story

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How much air pollution you’re exposed to in traffic depends on if you use air-conditioning or not

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In cities where most people can’t afford air-conditioned cars, the health costs of driving with the windows down are enormous. We know that air pollution from traffic jams is harmful to people living in a city , causing all sorts of short- and long-term health problems for people who have to breathe the bad air. But one group of unexpected people is especially at risk, and more so in cities in the developing world with notably bad air: people driving in cars without air-conditioning. Drivers in poorer countries where air-conditioned cars aren’t common can be exposed to 80% more air pollution than if they had AC, just because they need to keep their windows down while driving. Read Full Story

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8.7 million people a year die from fossil fuel pollution

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More than 60% of the deaths occur in China and India. We always knew the tiny particles of pollution that spew out of cars, coal power plants, and other machines running on fossil fuels are detrimental to global health, but now scientists have discovered that they are responsible for millions of additional deaths globally than previously thought. A new study in the journal Environmental Research estimates that in 2018, fossil fuel pollution was the cause of nearly one out of every five deaths, killing 8.7 million people. Read Full Story

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The clean air from COVID-19 shutdowns made solar panels more productive

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Clearer skies make for more sun on panels, which starts a virtuous cycle: less pollution to block the panels in the future. When COVID-19 forced Delhi into lockdown, residents reported a surprising benefit: blue skies and cleaner air. People in the world’s most polluted city said they could breathe better and reported using their inhalers less. The drop in air pollution provided another perk, as well: solar panels were able to produce more power. Read Full Story

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Ready to invest in a high-quality air purifier? Dyson’s eliminate 99.97% of air particles

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These multi-tasking air purifiers are approved by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America—and also heat, cool, and humidify your space. Nothing makes poor air quality more apparent than smog, orange skies, smoke, and a haze that you can barely see through. And although devastating destruction and visible pollution are obvious signs of poor air quality, oftentimes unsafe air is much less visible. That’s why investing in an air purifier is a logical, proactive step to take to protect you and yours from the harmful effects of gas and particulate pollution that can make its way into your home. As it stands, 91% of the population lives in places where the air quality fall below the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines. Read Full Story

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Harvard researchers have calculated how many unnecessary deaths the Trump administration left behind

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Professors at Harvard Medical School and the University of California at San Francisco looked at the numbers. They’re gruesome. The Trump administration leaves a devastating health legacy far beyond COVID-19, according to a new study in The Lancet by 33 researchers, led by professors at Harvard Medical School and the University of California at San Francisco. Read Full Story

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We should start giving names to extreme heat waves

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Extreme heat kills more Americans each year than other disasters, but the public isn’t as wary of it. More publicity could help. As a prolonged heat wave bakes states like Florida and Texas, it’s happening at the same time as coronavirus cases spike, which means people are stuck at home. If they don’t have air-conditioning, it’s likely to lead to early deaths: Extreme heat kills more Americans each year than disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, or floods, and as climate change progresses, the problem is getting worse. But heat waves rarely get as much attention as something like an approaching tropical storm. Read Full Story

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