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Truth Behind the Headlines: Cutting air pollution can prevent deaths within weeks

UK media reported that cutting air pollution can prevent deaths within weeks, according to a literature review by scientists that looks at the health benefits of pollution reduction at different levels of interventions. 


The review found the health benefits of clean air were “almost immediate and substantial” and stretched into the long term, saving billions of dollars. 

Using our recommended five tips, Global Action Plan reviewed the study:


Questions to ask to get to the truth Our response
1. Does the article refer to a report to back up its claims? Yes, "Health Benefits of Air Pollution Reduction", published September 2019
2. Who is behind the study it refers to? The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) Environmental Committee is an organisation comprised of the world’s leading international professional respiratory societies presenting a unifying voice to improve lung health globally. The organisation has more than 70,000 members worldwide.
3. How fantastical and radical is the claim that is being made? As a literature review, the research makes claims based on multiple research which must all be individually verified. The study only looks at two air pollutants and does not look at the chemical makeup of the particulate matter. The research team also note there may be diseases that should be associated with air pollution that are not currently and the models are based on data from a limited number of countries.
4. What geographical region does the claim refer to? United States, Western Europe, Asia and Africa.
5. What is the sample size of the study?

The samples were taken from 50 sites across London (out of 100 sites from London Air Quality Network sites which monitor pollution levels on an ongoing basis). These sites are located in roadside, suburban and urban background (locations such as residential and commercial areas of cities that are away from direct sources of emissions) areas. The sample excludes industrial sites.


The study references 95 studies globally which is a sufficient number of studies to review in-line with a doctoral thesis.

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