Animal agriculture is responsible for thousands of air quality-related deaths, according to a new report.
A new study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It describes poor air quality as the ‘largest environmental health risk’ in the US and worldwide.
Air-quality related deaths
The report also estimates agricultural production results in a staggering 17,900 annual air quality-related deaths.
Moreover, 80 percent of the 15,9000 deaths caused by food-related fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution are attributable to animal-based foods.
This includes both directly from animal production and from growing animal feed.
“Nationwide dietary shifts that decrease consumption of animal-based foods can lead to large decreases in agricultural PM2.5-related death rates,” the report states.
“[This] simultaneously reduces direct damages from livestock waste management and indirect damages from feed production.”
The report also says that 10,700-13,100 deaths could be prevented each year ‘from shifts’ to vegan or flexitarian diets’.
Can a plant-based diet save lives?
Earlier this year, a study published in The Lancet Planetary Health Journal argued millions of deaths could be avoided if people switched to a more plant-heavy diet.
The report estimated the number of deaths from nine countries in 2040. Factors for these deaths included air pollution, physical inactivity, and diet
Then, it ‘applied the effects of policies necessary to reach the emissions targets of each government’.
It found a 90 percent reduction in red meat – and increased intake of fruit and vegetables – would lead to almost 100,000 fewer premature deaths per year.
Dr. Ian Hamilton is the lead author of the study. He said: “The message is stark. Not only does delivering on Paris prevent millions from dying prematurely each year… The quality of life for millions more will be improved through better health.
“We have an opportunity now to place health in the forefront of climate change policies to save even more lives.”