SEOUL, April 4 (Yonhap) -- Poor air quality caused more than 17,000 deaths in South Korea in 2017, more than 90 percent of which resulted from the onslaught of harmful PM2.5 particles, a study released by a U.S. civic group showed Thursday.
The "State of Global Air 2019" report, published by the Health Effects Institute, revealed the number of people who died from indoor and outdoor air pollution reached an estimated 17,300 in South Korea in 2017, up 23.5 percent from the 14,000 recorded in 1990.
In South Korea, the death toll from air pollution decreased to 13,200 in 1995 before rising to 14,700 in 2000, 15,200 in 2005, 15,600 in 2010 and 17,000 in 2015.
PM2.5 -- particles in the air smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter -- contributed to 16,100 deaths, or 93 percent of the entire death toll from air pollution, in 2017, compared with 13,100, or 93.5 percent of the total, in 1990.
During the reported year, the study also found North Korea witnessed deaths of 38,800 and 10,000 from overall air pollution and PM2.5, respectively.
Overall air pollution contributed to 4.9 million deaths worldwide, becoming the fifth highest cause of death below dietary risks, high blood pressure, smoking and high blood sugar.
China and India topped the list of fatalities from air pollution, with each country witnessing over 1.2 million deaths. They were followed by Pakistan with 128,000, Indonesia with 124,000, Bangladesh with 123,000, Nigeria with 114,000, the United States with 108,000, Russia with 99,000 and Brazil with 66,000.
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