Study: Farming major contributor to air pollution deaths


China has the most air pollution fatalities worldwide at 1.4 million. (Chris Aston/Flickr)
China has the most air pollution-related fatalities worldwide at 1.4 million. (Chris Aston/Flickr)

Nick Fetty | September 16, 2015

A recent study finds that farming is a major contributor to air pollution-related deaths in industrialized countries.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, was a collaboration among scientists from Germany, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, and the University of Harvard. The researchers used health statistics and computer modeling to analyze the main causes of air pollution. Of the 54,905 deaths caused by soot and smog in the United States in 2010, 16,929 were attributed to power plant pollution followed by farming with 16,221.

Worldwide there were 3.3 million deaths caused by air pollution with 1.4 million in China alone. India was next with 645,000 followed by Pakistan with 110,000. The United States ranked seventh.

Farming attributed to 664,100 of the deaths worldwide, second to over 1 million fatalities caused by pollution from wood and biofuels used for cooking and heating in developing nations. The study predicts that at its current rate, air pollution will contribute to nearly 6.6 million deaths worldwide by 2050.

The DNR provides current about current air quality conditions for Iowa and the rest of the country.

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