Pollution Responsible for 9 Million Deaths Each Year

Modern types of pollution deaths – including toxic chemical and ambient air pollution – have increased by 66% over the past two decades, according to data from the Global Burden of Disease, Injury and Risk Factors study.

Nine million people worldwide die from pollution each year, a number that has not changed since 2015, driven by industrialization, uncontrolled urbanization, population growth, the combustion of fossil fuels, and a lack of adequate national and international policies. That’s what Richard Fuller, BEng told. Global Alliance on Health and Pollution in Geneva, Switzerland, and partners in Lancet Planet Health,

Ambient air pollution caused 4.5 million deaths in 2019, up from 2.9 million in 2000. Deaths due to hazardous chemical pollutants also increased from 0.9 million in 2019 to 1.8 million in 2000. from toxic occupational hazards.

Fuller and team note that countries should focus on a multidisciplinary approach – air and chemical pollution – to tackle the public health crisis.

“Pollution is generally viewed as a local issue through sub-national and national regulation or, occasionally, using regional policy in high-income countries,” he wrote. “Now, however, it is increasingly clear that pollution is a planetary threat, and that its drivers, its spread, and its effects on health transcend local limits and demand a global response. Global action on all major modern pollutants is required.”

He noted that while there has been a reduction in deaths due to pollution related to extreme poverty, such as household air and water pollution, more than 90% of pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

While the greatest reduction in deaths related to traditional sources of pollution was in Africa, due to advances in sanitation, water supply and other factors, Southeast Asia was home to the greatest increase in modern types of pollution, which is the cause of the region’s aging. happened to the population. ,

“The health effects of pollution are enormous, and low- and middle-income countries are bearing the brunt of this burden,” Fuller said in a press release. “Despite its enormous health, social and economic impacts, pollution prevention is largely ignored in the international development agenda.”

Fuller and his colleagues estimated that 2015 caused a total economic loss of $4.6 trillion. He emphasized that the situation “has not improved” and that pollution “remains a major global threat to health and prosperity.”

“Most countries have done little to address this huge public health problem,” he wrote. “Although high-income countries have controlled their worst forms of pollution and have linked pollution control to climate change mitigation, only a few low-income and middle-income countries have been able to prioritize pollution, with regard to pollution control. Resources dedicated to, or progress made.”

“Similarly, there is little attention paid to pollution control in official development aid or global philanthropy,” he said.

Fuller and his colleagues stress that reducing pollution could also slow climate change, “a massive, rapid transition away from all fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.”

Other recommendations in the report include the establishment of an independent United Nations Panel on Pollution, increasing funding for pollution control from governments and philanthropic donors, and improving monitoring and data collection, Fuller said.


Fuller did not report a conflict of interest.

Co-authors reported funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the German Ministry of the Environment, the UK Department of the Environment, the US National Institutes of Health, the Center Scientific de Monaco, the UN Environment, the Barr Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health and the US Department of Housing . and urban development.

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