From a wellness perspective, one of the “hot” issues that will make the headlines in 2020 is air pollution.

The reason is simple: Climate change is making it far worse. The reasons are twofold: (1) When the air is dryer and hotter, it doesn’t wash pollution out of the atmosphere as quickly as it would otherwise; (2) global warming exacerbates air pollution by trapping tiny harmful particles (so-called particulate matter PM2.5) in highly populated areas, most notably the big cities.

Today’s numbers are staggering: According to the Lancet Countdown that assesses the impact of climate change on human health, in 2016, dangerously high levels of air pollution caused more than 7 million deaths around the world, with PM2.5 responsible for about 40 percent of them (2.9 million).

Unless governments do something to mitigate the risk and correct the trajectory with decisive policy changes (such as deciding to close coal plants), the number of deaths will inevitably increase with climate change.

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