A new study by a team of researchers led by Boston College suggests that Africa has seen at least 1.1 million deaths from air pollution . Specifically: Household air pollution, driven largely by indoor stoves, caused 700,000 deaths, while increased outdoor air pollution claimed 400,000 lives.
Furthermore, air pollution is costing African countries billions in gross domestic product and may be correlated with a devastating loss in the intellectual development of African children.
Increase in deaths from outdoor pollution
In the first continental examination of the far-reaching impacts of air pollution in Africa, the international team found that while deaths from household air pollution have slightly decreased, deaths from outdoor air pollution or environmental are increasing .
The combustion of fossil fuels has driven an increase in outdoor air pollution that in 2019 killed 29.15 people per 100,000 residents, an increase of 26.13 deaths per 100,000 in 1990, according to the study. In examining the cost to children’s brain development, the researchers estimate that exposure of infants and young children to air pollution resulted in the loss of 1.96 billion IQ points across the continent .
Africa’s population is on track to triple this century, from 1.3 billion in 2020 to 4.3 billion in 2100. Cities are expanding, economies are growing, and life expectancy has nearly doubled. The environmental impact has only just begun .
Consequently, indoor and outdoor sources combine to make air pollution the second leading cause of death in Africa, claiming more lives than tobacco, alcohol, car accidents and drug abuse. Only AIDS causes more deaths .