Pollution kills more than malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis combined
There is something lurking in the world that kills more people than hunger, more people than smoking and more than natural disasters. In some countries, it is the reason for one in four deaths.
No, this is not a new infectious disease or an outbreak of a virus. The killer is completely man-made, and something you probably contribute to every day.
Pollution is the reason for 16% of all deaths in the world; three times more than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
This startling statistic is the finding of a new global study, the first ever looking into the effect pollution has around the world. The findings were published in The Lancet.
“This is the first global analysis of the impacts of pollution — air, water, soil, occupational – together as well as exploring the economic costs and the social injustice of pollution,” says Bruce Lanphear, author of the report and professor at Simon Fraser University, in British Columbia. “Pollution, which is at the root of many diseases and disorders that plague humankind, is entirely preventable.”
While pollution causes 16% of deaths worldwide, almost all of these occur in poor countries. Nearly 92% of pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
It affects people before they are even born. Small exposures to chemicals when children are in the womb can lead to lifelong disease and early death.
The researchers also found 85% of all air pollution is caused by the burning of fossil fuels or biomass. If we could move to renewable sources of energy quickly, the authors said, this would make a huge difference to air pollution.
Just this week, drivers in London are facing increased charges aimed at reducing air pollution in the city. A report at the start of the month found Londoners are exposed to the most toxic kind of air pollution every day.