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Fossil Fuel Pollution Kills 8.7 Million a Year, Twice Previous Estimate

Fine-particle pollution is harmful even at lower levels, according to a global study

Workshop in Wickede
Photographer: IIna Fassbender/picture alliance/Getty Images
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Efforts to slow the process of global warming focus on the future harms of continuing to burn fossil fuel, but new research released Tuesday shows that deadly consequences from pollution are killing larger numbers of people right now than had been assumed.

Fossil fuels are alone responsible for more than 8 million premature deaths annually, according to new research by a team of U.S. and U.K. scientists published in Environmental Research. That's double the previous high-end estimate of fine-particle pollution mortality, and three times the combined number killed by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in 2018.