How Trade Killed a Million People in One Year

  Last updated April 6, 2017 at 11:29 am

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An analysis of global premature deaths caused by fine particle air pollution in 2007 was published in the journal Nature today. It reports that more than one million of those deaths can be linked to international trade and the globalisation of air pollution.


The researchers looked at 3.45 million premature deaths that occurred around the world in 2007 that could be related to fine-particle pollution. They found that, of these deaths, around 12% (411,100) were caused by pollutants emitted in a region of the world other than where the deaths occurred and another 22% (762,400) were associated with the production of goods and services in one region but consumed in another.


Fine particles are thought to account for more than 90% of premature deaths from outdoor air pollution around the world and they have been associated with conditions such as heart disease and lung cancer.


It has long been suspected that air pollution from production areas is mainly a localised problem with the incidence of deaths more likely to occur close to where the fine particles are generated. However, this study shows that outdoor air pollution is more than just a local or regional problem and that the global impact of fine particle-related deaths is both apparent and poorly understood.



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About the Author

Paul Willis
Paul is a respected leader in the science community with an impressive career in science. He has a background in vertebrate palaeontology, studying the fossils of crocodiles and other reptiles. He also has a long history as a science communicator, with a career spanning as Director of The Royal Institution of Australia, presenter and host for Australia’s Science Channel, working for the ABC on TV programs such as Catalyst and Quantum as well as radio and online. He’s written books and articles on dinosaurs, fossils and rocks and is finding new ways to engage the people of Australia with the science that underpins their world. Follow him on Twitter @fossilcrox.

Published By

The Royal Institution of Australia is an independent charity, and the sister organisation of the prestigious Royal Institution of Great Britain, tasked with promoting public awareness and understanding of science.


The Royal Institution of Australia is passionate about building and connecting communities engaged with science, and as such works closely with scientific organisations, institutions, universities from Australia, and leaders to inspire the next generation of innovators and to create a lasting legacy for Australia.


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