Air pollution is killing more people every year than smoking, according to research published on Tuesday that called for urgent action to stop burning fossil fuels.
Researchers in Germany and Cyprus estimated that air pollution caused 8.8 million extra deaths in 2015 - almost double the previously estimated 4.5 million.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates smoking kills about 7 million people a year globally.
The researchers found that in Europe - the key focus of the European Society of Cardiology research - air pollution caused an estimated 790,000 deaths, between 40 and 80 percent of them from cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and stroke.
“Since most of the particulate matter and other air pollutants in Europe come from the burning of fossil fuels, we need to switch to other sources for generating energy urgently,” said co-author Prof. Jos Lelieveld, of the Max-Plank Institute for Chemistry in Mainz and the Cyprus Institute Nicosia, Cyprus.
“When we use clean, renewable energy, we are not just fulfilling the Paris Agreement to mitigate the effects of climate change, we could also reduce air pollution-related death rates in Europe by up to 55 percent.”
smoking is also prohibited in the workplace, companies, government offices, factories, banks and all public transport facilities. (Shutterstock)