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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This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41625020, 41629501, 41422502, 41222036 and 41541039) and China’s National Basic Research Program (2014CB441301 and 2014CB441303). Q.Z. and K.H. are supported by the Collaborative Innovation Center for Regional Environmental Quality and the Cyrus Tang Foundation. The work at Argonne National Laboratory acknowledges the Modeling, Analysis and Predictability (MAP) programme of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) under Proposal No. 08-MAP-0143, for which we thank D. Considine (NASA) and M. Chin (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center). H.H. acknowledges the support of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71322304). Z.L. acknowledges the support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41501605). D.G. acknowledges the support from the National Key R&D Program of China (2016YFA0602604), the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ES/L016028/1), the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NE/N00714X/1), and the British Academy (AF150310). We thank T. Xue for discussions on statistics.
Extended data figures
Extended data tables
This file contains country lists in the alternate emission inventory and the GTAP model, and the corresponding classification of 13 regions.
This file contains the sources category of the emission inventory in this study.
This file contains mapping structure from emission inventory to GTAP sectors.
This file contains mapping structure from EDGAR sectors to GTAP sectors.
This file contains camparison of transboundary transport of PM2.5 with the HTAP study.
About this article
Environment, Development and Sustainability (2019)