Measuring the double burden of air pollution

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PLoS Translational Global Health
Translational Global Health facilitates the translation of findings from basic science to practical applications in Global Health practice and, thus, meaningful health outcomes for diverse populations and societies. Translational Global Health is an independent blog on the PLOS BLOGS Network, focusing on the field, concepts and challenges of Global Health. Dr Alessandro Demaio and his team of regular guest bloggers bring honest, pragmatic discussion – with a special interest in Non-Communicable Disease and Global Health 2.0. PLoS Translational GH Blog content is shared via GHhub with permission.

On a recent trip to China to collect data on air pollution as part of the China Kadoorie Biobank prospective cohort study, Ka Hung Chan was struck by the limitations of available personal exposure collection and monitoring devices. Without improved devices and data, we won’t clear the air on pollution in heavily burdened LMICs – and generate much needed political attention and investment in prevention.   In the latest Global Burden of Disease study, ambient and household air pollution* were together ranked the 4th leading risk factors of disease burden (after dietary risks, tobacco smoke and high blood pressure), accounting for 6.5 million premature deaths in 2015. Up to 90% of these deaths occurred in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs), many of which are undergoing industrialisation and suffering from ever-worsening ambient air pollution (AAP), as well as unresolved household air pollution (HAP) from domestic solid fuel use – this is the  ‘double burden of air pollution’.   Available evidence While AAP has been rising on the global public health agenda in recent years, early epidemiological investigations begun after the infamous 1952 London smog event

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Measuring the double burden of air pollution