Burning fossil fuels releases air pollutants like nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and particulate matter (e.g. small pieces of carbon suspended in the air) . These cause lung conditions such as asthma and cancer . If we phase out fossil fuels completely, it’s expected that we would avoid 3.6 million deaths from air pollution each year . If we stopped other sources of air pollution as well, such as agriculture, then we could prevent 5.6 million deaths annually [1,2]. This is higher than deaths from other avoidable risks like unclean water, poor sanitation, and hygiene [2.8]. So, in addition to limiting climate change, cleaning up the air we breathe is a great reason to move away from fossil fuels!
It’s important to note, however, that overall deaths from air pollution have decreased steadily over the last few decades, due to laws controlling air pollution from factories and cars [5,6,7].
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