Fossil fuel air pollution caused 8.7 million deaths worldwide in 2018, an annual toll that’s nearly twice as high as previous estimates, according to a new study.
It said that breathing in particulate matter emitted by the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal accounted for nearly 1 in 5 global deaths that year, CBS News reported.
The study was published Feb. 9 in the journal Environmental Research.
Regions with the highest levels of fossil-fuel pollution had the highest death rates. They included eastern North America, Europe and Southeast Asia, which includes China and India, CBS News reported.
“Our study adds to the mounting evidence that air pollution from ongoing dependence on fossil fuels is detrimental to global health,” study co-author Eloise Marais said in statement.
“We can’t in good conscience continue to rely on fossil fuels, when we know that there are such severe effects on health and viable, cleaner alternatives.”