West Publishes Popular Paper on Air Pollution

January 2014

How much does human-produced outdoor air pollution impact health?

factory pollution

Photo by Bert van Dijk

A paper on this topic was the second most downloaded paper of 2013 from the journal Environmental Research Letters. Co-authored by Jason West, PhD, assistant professor, and Raquel A. Silva and Yuqiang Zhang, doctoral students, from the Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, the study estimates that more than two million deaths occur each year as a direct result of human-produced air pollution. The study also shows that climate change has had minimal effect by comparison.

“Our estimates make outdoor air pollution among the most important environmental risk factors for health,” West said. “Many of these deaths are estimated to occur in East Asia and South Asia, where a large population is exposed to severe air pollution.”