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The deadly human cost of your cellphone, calculated

A new study tallies pollution-related deaths that result from our relentless consumption of goods.
People make their way through heavy smog on an extremely polluted day with red alert issued, in Shengfang, Hebei province, China December 19, 2016. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

A new international study sheds light on a disturbing reality. Consumers in the west are indirectly contributing to the deaths of people in the countries where those products are made. 

The study estimates that 3.45 million premature deaths are the result of  air pollution, and that  22 per cent, or approximately 760,000 of those deaths can be linked to consumer goods produced in one part of the world for consumption in another. The research focused specifically on fine particulate matter, or PM 2.5. 

In the paper, Dr. Steven Davis and his co-researchers lay out evidence that they say might be considered in decisions made by policy makers, and global governance bodies. 

And consumers might think twice the next time they swap their cell phones for the latest model, or buy cheap sunglasses from a dollar store. 

"Transboundary health impacts of transported global air pollution and international trade" is published in Nature Letters