Air Pollution: The Heat Factor

Air Pollution: The Heat Factor

Mortality increase due to heat waves has been extensively studied. For example, it is estimated that 70,000 additional deaths occurred during DESK3 heatwave in Europe. The increasing frequency and intensity of heatwaves projected for the coming century is an important health concern.

Air pollution impact on health is another important issue. The World Health Organization estimated that in 2012, 7 millions premature deaths were caused by air pollution, worldwide.

Let's now dive into these three-fold impacts.

1- Heat increases primary pollutants emissions

Heat triggers more air conditioning power usage in buildings and cars, and this additional power usage emits more air pollution.

Climate change with longer warm periods, can also cause a greater production of plant-based allergens such as pollens (source US White House report).

Other side effects of heat can increase air pollution, such as wild fires that produce high quantities of particles; this pollution can reach densely populated areas, transported by winds.

Ultrafine particles are so small and lightweight that they are a negligible share of the renowned PM2.5 measurement. However, they are a critical factor of the air pollution.

"Ultrafine particles represent 80% of the particles in the air of cities", says Francelyne Marano, Professor in Biology at the Paris-Diderot University. "But we have no technology to accurately measure them. That's why there is currently no regulation for ultrafine particles."

Finally, Global Warming and air pollution combine into a major public health concern.

In the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled, and climate change is putting those Americans at greater risk of landing in the hospital. Already, more than 8 percent of Americans are living with asthma, including more than 9% of children. In fact, asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalizations for children.

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