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Ozone linked to a million premature deaths a year


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Ozone air pollution is being linked to a million premature deaths across the world each year - more than double previous estimates.

Scientists at the University of York's Stockholm Environment Institute have released figures showing long-term outdoor exposure to ozone air pollution is linked to about one in five respiratory deaths globally. The levels are substantially larger than previous estimates from 2003 that suggested 400,000 premature respiratory deaths.

The findings, published in the journal 'Environmental Health Perspectives', were based on results from a recent US analysis of the association of long-term ozone exposure and respiratory mortality in 670,000 adults.

India accounted for about 400,000 deaths and China for about 270,000. Africa, Europe and North America each had between 50,000 and 60,000 deaths, with fewer in Latin America and Oceania.

Lead author Chris Malley said: "This study highlights that exposure to ozone may make a substantially greater contribution to the global burden of disease than previously thought."

But he said the analysis was based on exposure in the US and the risk factors for respiratory diseases vary considerably in other parts of the world.

Ozone is formed in the atmosphere from emissions of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides from vehicles, organic compounds from solvent use, and methane from agriculture.

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