Pollution kills at least nine million people and costs trillions of US dollars every year, according to the most comprehensive global analysis to date, which warns the crisis “threatens the continuing survival of human societies.”
Toxic air, water, soils and workplaces are responsible for the diseases that kill one in every six people around the world, a landmark report has found, and the true total could be millions higher because the impact of many pollutants are poorly understood.
The vast majority of the pollution deaths occur in poorer nations and in some, such as India, Chad and Madagascar, pollution causes a quarter of all deaths.
“Pollution is one of the great existential challenges of the Anthropocene era,” concluded the authors of the Commission on Pollution and Health report, published in the Lancet on Friday. “Pollution endangers the stability of the Earth’s support systems and threatens the continuing survival of human societies.”
The commission report combined data from the WHO and elsewhere and found air pollution was the biggest killer, leading to heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and other illnesses. Outdoor air pollution, largely from vehicles and industry, caused 4.5 million deaths a year and indoor air pollution, from wood and dung stoves, caused 2.9 million.
The next biggest killer is water pollution, often with sewage, which is linked to 1.8 million deaths as a result of gastrointestinal diseases and parasitic infections. Workplace pollution, including exposure to toxins, carcinogens and secondhand tobacco smoke, resulted in 800,000 deaths from diseases including pneumoconiosis in coal workers and bladder cancer in dye workers. Lead pollution, the one metal for which some data is available, was linked to 500,000 deaths a year.
Low-income and rapidly industrializing countries are worst affected, suffering 92 percent of pollution-related deaths, with Somalia suffering the highest rate of pollution deaths. India, where both traditional and modern pollution are severe, has by far the largest number of pollution deaths at 2.5 million. China is second with 1.8 million and Russia and the US are also in the top 10.
The editor-in-chief of the Lancet, Richard Horton, and the executive editor, Pamela Das, write: “No country is unaffected by pollution. Human activities, including industrialization, urbanization, and globalization, are all drivers of pollution. We hope the commission findings will persuade leaders at the national, state, provincial and city levels to make pollution a priority. Current and future generations deserve a pollution-free world.”
Source article: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2017/10/25/2003680966/2
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