Home / News / India /  Aerosols pollution can affect human health even without CO2

Air pollution can increase the negative effects of climate change on human health, and recent study said, adding “Aerosols can directly affect human health and the climate independently of CO2."

A study published in Science Advances said aerosols are tiny solid particles and liquid droplets that contribute to smog and are emitted from industrial factories, power plants and vehicle tailpipes. They impact human health, agricultural and economic productivity in unique global patterns when compared with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which are the focus of efforts to mitigate climate change.

Geeta Persad, an assistant professor at the UT Austin Jackson School of Geosciences, the co-lead author said, although CO2 and aerosols are often emitted at the same time during the combustion of fuel, the two substances behave differently in Earth's atmosphere. 

"Carbon dioxide has the same impact on climate no matter who emits it," said Persad.

"But for these aerosol pollutants, they tend to stay concentrated near where they're emitted, so the effect that they have on the climate system is very patchy and very dependent on where they're coming from," he added.

Depending on where they are emitted, aerosols can worsen the social costs of carbon - an estimate of the economic costs greenhouse gasses have on society - by as much as 66 per cent. The scientists looked at eight key regions: Brazil, China, East Africa, Western Europe, India, Indonesia, United States and South Africa.

"This research highlights how the harmful effects of our emissions are generally underestimated," said Jennifer Burney, co-lead author and the Marshall Saunders Chancellor's Endowed Chair in Global Climate Policy and Research at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy.

"CO2 is making the planet warmer, but it also gets emitted with a bunch of other compounds that impact people and plants directly and cause climate changes in their own right," she added.

(With inputs from agencies)

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