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Professor Ross Anderson & the Global Burden of Disease

The 2010 Global Burden of Disease (GBD 2010) – was published on 15 December in a special issue of the The Lancet comprising 7 papers together with commentaries. Produced by a rigorous scientific process involving over 450 global experts and led by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington along with its partner institutions: the World Health Organization, the University of Queensland, Australia, Johns Hopkins University, and Harvard University. Its extensive analysis was subjected to detailed peer review to ensure the highest quality of analysis, and a consistent and comparable approach to ensure that the many risk factors could be assessed using the same techniques. Within the larger GBD project, the outdoor air pollution analyses were conducted by an international team led by Dr. Aaron Cohen of Health Effects Institute and Professor H Ross Anderson of St. Georges, University of London and King’s College London.

The paper by Lim et al (2012) contains the results for the comparative risk assessment. The GBD applies consistent methods to estimate risks of premature mortality and contributions to global health burden, estimated as disability adjusted life-years (DALYs) from a wide variety of risks: smoking, diet, alcohol, HIV AIDS, household and outdoor air pollution, and many more. It places outdoor air pollution among the top 10 risks worldwide and among the top five or six risks in the developing countries of Asia. It also documents that household air pollution from the burning of solid fuels is responsible for a substantial burden of disease in low- and middle income countries.

This new analysis identifies especially high risk levels in the developing countries of Asia where air pollution levels are the highest in the world. Overall GBD 2010 estimates over 2.1 million premature deaths and 52 million years of healthy life lost in 2010 due to ambient fine particle air pollution, fully 2/3 of the burden worldwide.

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