Almost one million stillbirths per year can be linked to toxic air pollution, according to the first global study of its kind. This study follows recent research that found toxic air particles in the lungs and brains of fetuses.

Source: CBS News/YouTube

The study, published in Nature Communications, estimates that almost half of stillbirths can be linked to exposure to pollution particles that are tiny and mostly produced from the burning of fossil fuels.

The study looked at 137 countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, where 98 percent of stillbirths take place. Although it was already known that air pollution increases the risk of stillbirth, this is the first study to assess the number of deaths. The study looked at data from over 45,000 stillbirths and live births.

Researchers used data on stillbirths and air pollution between 1998 and 2016 from 54 low- and middle-income countries. They used this to estimate the number of stillbirths that could be linked to exposure across the 137 low-and middle-income countries. Researchers also took into account that the impact of dirty air was greater on older mothers.

99 percent of all of the mothers were exposed to PM2.5 levels above the WHO’s current guideline level of 5 micrograms per cubic meter. The study found 2.09 million stillbirths in the countries studied in 2015, and 45 percent of them were attributable to exposure above the 5 μg/m3 level.

Although it is still not known how air pollution may cause stillbirths, researchers say that pollution particles passing through the placenta could cause irreversible damage.

Air pollution is an invisible killer and has been linked to so many diseases, including fatty liver disease, depression, and other mental health issues, and a study even found that nearly 6 million babies born prematurely in 2019 were likely linked to air pollution. Eating meat has been linked to a rise in air pollution, and factory farms are one of the biggest to blame for our dirty air.

According to the WHO, an estimated 4.2 million people every year are killed by outdoor air pollution, and 99 percent of the global population breathes air that exceeds WHO guideline limits, with low and middle-income areas disproportionately affected. Check out these eco-artists that are using their art to call attention to the massive problem of air pollution and sign the petition to demand federal clean-up of disproportionately affected polluted areas in the United States.

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