Many of the risks to human health from air pollution are well documented (respiratory illnesses, coronary heart disease, stroke). Now there’s a new one: analysis published in Lancet Planetary Health has found a correlation between air pollution and rising global antibiotic resistance – the first time such a link has been established. PM2.5 air pollution – particulates from cars, coal and industrial processes – can contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria with genetic material which can be inhaled. By looking at data from 116 countries the researchers found a 10 per cent uptick in air pollution is linked to a 1.1 per cent increase in antibiotic resistance. More importantly, the association has become stronger over time, “which could hasten the beginning of a so-called post-antibiotic era”, the researchers write. Antibiotic resistance is already one of the major threats to global health. If governments don’t tackle air pollution, annual deaths linked to antibiotic resistance could rise, according to the team’s modelling, to 840,000 a year by 2050. The most affected region: sub-Saharan Africa.