Global pollution kills 9 million people a year, study finds

A new study blames pollution of all types for 9 million deaths a year globally. The death toll due to polluted air from cars, trucks, and industries increased by 55 percent since 2000.

Overall pollution deaths in 2019 were nearly the same as in 2015; thanks to fewer pollution deaths from primitive indoor stoves and water contaminated with human and animal waste.

Pollution deaths ratio

The study was published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health. The United States is the only fully industrialized country in the top 10 nations for overall pollution deaths. It is ranked 7th with 142,883 deaths due to pollution in 2019, sandwiched between Bangladesh and Ethiopia.

The pre-pandemic analysis released on Tuesday is based on figures from the Global Burden of Disease database and Seattle’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. With nearly 2.4 million and approximately 2.2 million deaths per year, respectively, India and China lead the world in pollution deaths, but they also have the world’s largest populations.

The United States ranks 31st from the bottom in terms of deaths per 100,000, with 43.6 deaths per 100,000. Chad and the Central African Republic have the highest pollution death rates, around 300 per 100,000, with more than half of these owing to contaminated water, whereas Brunei, Qatar, and Iceland have the lowest, ranging from 15 to 23 per 100,000. The global average is 117 pollution deaths per 100,000 people.

According to the report, it kills almost the same number of people each year around the world as cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke combined.

“9 million deaths is a lot of deaths,” says Philip Landrigan. He is the director of the Global Public Health Program and Global Pollution Observatory at Boston College.

“The bad news is that it’s not decreasing,” Landrigan also said. “We’re making gains in the easy stuff and we’re seeing the more difficult stuff, which is the ambient (outdoor industrial) air pollution and the chemical pollution, still going up.”

Preventable deaths

Researchers claim that things don’t have to be this way.

“They are preventable deaths. Each and every one of them is a death that is unnecessary,” says Dr. Lynn Goldman. She is the dean of the George Washington University School of Public Health, who wasn’t part of the study. She said the calculations made sense. If anything was so conservative about what it attributed to pollution, the real death toll is likely higher.

The death certificates for these people do not mention pollution. Numerous epidemiological studies have “tightly correlated” heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, other lung disorders, and diabetes with pollution, according to Landrigan. Researchers look at the number of deaths by cause, pollution exposure weighted for various characteristics, and then intricate exposure-response calculations drawn from huge epidemiological studies based on thousands of people over decades of study to link these together with real deaths, he said. Scientists can argue the same thing about cigarettes causing cancer and heart disease mortality.

“That cannon of information constitutes causality,” Landrigan said. “That’s how we do it.”

Air pollution was responsible for three-quarters of all pollution-related deaths. The overwhelming part of that is “a combination of pollution from stationary sources like coal-fired power plants and steel mills on one hand and mobile sources like cars, trucks, and buses. And it’s just a big global problem,” said Landrigan, a public health physician. “And it’s getting worse around the world as countries develop and cities grow.”

The authors of the study made eight recommendations to reduce pollution-related mortality. Thus, emphasizing the need for better monitoring, reporting, and also governance mechanisms that regulate industry and automobiles.

 

Source: Breezyscroll

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