Millions of people die every year from diseases caused by exposure to outdoor air pollution1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Some studies have estimated premature mortality related to local sources of air pollution6, 7, but local air quality can also be affected by atmospheric transport of pollution from distant sources8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. International trade is contributing to the globalization of emission and pollution as a result of the production of goods (and their associated emissions) in one region for consumption in another region14, 19, 20, 21, 22. The effects of international trade on air pollutant emissions23, air quality14 and health24 have been investigated regionally, but a combined, global assessment of the health impacts related to international trade and the transport of atmospheric air pollution is lacking. Here we combine four global models to estimate premature mortality caused by fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution as a result of atmospheric transport and the production and consumption of goods and services in different world regions. We find that, of the 3.45 million premature deaths related to PM2.5 pollution in 2007 worldwide, about 12 per cent (411,100 deaths) were related to air pollutants emitted in a region of the world other than that in which the death occurred, and about 22 per cent (762,400 deaths) were associated with goods and services produced in one region for consumption in another. For example, PM2.5 pollution produced in China in 2007 is linked to more than 64,800 premature deaths in regions other than China, including more than 3,100 premature deaths in western Europe and the USA; on the other hand, consumption in western Europe and the USA is linked to more than 108,600 premature deaths in China. Our results reveal that the transboundary health impacts of PM2.5 pollution associated with international trade are greater than those associated with long-distance atmospheric pollutant transport.
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Extended data figures and tables
Extended Data Figures
- Extended Data Figure 2: Global distribution of premature mortality in 2007 due to production-related PM2.5 air pollution. (608 KB)
a–i, Maps show the number of deaths related to air pollution produced (that is, emitted) in the rest of east Asia (a), the rest of Asia (b), Russia (c), eastern Europe (d), Canada (e), the Middle East and north Africa (f), Latin America (g), sub-Saharan Africa (h) and the rest of the world (i).
- Extended Data Figure 3: Global distribution of premature mortality in 2007 due to consumption-related PM2.5 air pollution. (646 KB)
a–i, Maps show the number of deaths related to goods and services consumed in the rest of east Asia (a), the rest of Asia (b), Russia (c), eastern Europe (d), Canada (e), the Middle East and north Africa (f), Latin America (g), sub-Saharan Africa (h) and the rest of the world (i).
- Extended Data Figure 4: Differences in worldwide premature mortality in 2007 between production- and consumption-related PM2.5 air pollution. (423 KB)
a–d, Maps show the number of deaths worldwide related to consumption in the given region minus the number of deaths worldwide related to production in that region, for China (a), western Europe (b), the USA (c) and India (d).
- Extended Data Figure 5: Uncertainty ranges. (792 KB)
a, b, Uncertainties relating to Fig. 2. The ranges at the top of each panel represent the 95% CI for the number of attributable deaths in the region indicated by the column. The ranges at the right of each panel represent the 95% CI for the total number of worldwide deaths caused by pollution produced in the region indicated by the row (a) or related to the consumption of products in that region that are produced there or elsewhere (b). Each cell in the grid shows the standard deviation of the fraction of deaths (%); darker shading in the off-diagonal cells highlights larger standard deviations.
- Extended Data Figure 6: Summary of global premature mortality per capita due to transported PM2.5 pollution and traded products. (320 KB)
a, e, Worldwide mortality due to pollution produced (that is, emitted) in each region (a) or related to products consumed in each region (e). b, f, Mortality in each region due to pollution produced in that region (b) or related to products consumed in that region (f). c, g, Mortality in all other regions due to pollution produced in each region (c) or related to products consumed in each region (g). d, h, Mortality in each region due to pollution produced elsewhere (d) or related to products consumed elsewhere (h). All data are normalized according to regional populations (reported as deaths per one million people). Error bars denote 95% CIs, determined by uncertainties in the GEOS-Chem-simulated fractional contribution of PM2.5 exposure and in the total PM2.5-related mortality.
Extended Data Tables
- Supplementary Information (3.1 MB)
This file contains Supplementary Text and Data, additional references, Supplementary Figures 1-10, Supplementary Tables 5, 7 and 8 (see separate excel files for Supplementary Tables 1-4 and 6).
- Supplementary Table 1 (18 KB)
This file contains country lists in the alternate emission inventory and the GTAP model, and the corresponding classification of 13 regions.
- Supplementary Table 2 (14 KB)
This file contains the sources category of the emission inventory in this study.
- Supplementary Table 3 (22 KB)
This file contains mapping structure from emission inventory to GTAP sectors.
- Supplementary Table 4 (13 KB)
This file contains mapping structure from EDGAR sectors to GTAP sectors.
- Supplementary Table 6 (12 KB)
This file contains camparison of transboundary transport of PM2.5 with the HTAP study.