Does Air Pollution Lower Life Expectancy in London?

London has notoriously high levels of air pollution. The city regularly breaks annual limits set by the EU within a matter of days, resulting in huge fines, more than one court case from environmental law firms and significant risk to its nine million inhabitants. But just how much of a risk to human life does poor air quality pose? In a new set of findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers have created a global map which determines how much the air pollution in any part of the world affects life expectancy. Using China as their better benchmark, the team were able to develop a metric linking to the two together and apply it to cities all across the globe. The scientific approach Led by director of the Energy Policy Institute (EPIC) at the University of Chicago Michael Greenstone, the research team analysed the effects of Huai River Policy in China. Implemented in the 1950s, the policy supplied those living north of the river with free coal to heat their homes during winter months. This led to a huge discrepancy in air pollution levels between the northern and southern regions of the country.



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