Dead Americans = More $$
2018-01-11 03:13:55 UTC
In one of the most extensive reports of its kind, environmental health
experts have estimated that nine million premature deaths worldwide16% of
all deathswere linked to pollution in 2015, with the majority of deaths
coming from air pollution.
The new study, published in the journal The Lancet and written by more
than 40 international health and environmental experts, uses data from the
the Global Burden of Disease, an international study that examines trends
across populations and estimates mortality from major diseases and their
causes. To estimate the number of people who died from pollution-related
causes, it looked at the effects of air pollution, or air contaminated
with things like gases and the burning of wood, charcoal and coal; water
pollution, which includes contamination by things like unhygienic
sanitation; and workplace pollution, where employees are exposed to toxins
and carcinogens like coal or asbestos.
Air pollution was linked to 6.5 million deaths in 2015, water pollution
was linked to 1.8 million deaths and workplace pollution was linked to
nearly one million deaths. Deaths from pollution-linked diseases, like
heart disease and cancer, were three times higher than deaths from AIDS,
tuberculosis and malaria combined, the researchers found.
The authors also found that 92% of pollution-related deaths happen in low-
and middle-income countries. In growing countries like India, China,
Pakistan, Bangladesh, Madagascar and Kenya, the researchers say that up to
one in four deaths can be tied to pollution. China and India had the
greatest number of pollution-related deaths in 2015. That year, pollution
in China was linked to 1.8 million deaths, and pollution in India was
linked to 2.5 million deaths. But air pollution is also killing people in
the United States. More than 155,000 U.S. deaths in 2015 were related to
pollution, the researchers found.
When I was a kid in school, we were all worried about pollution, says
report leader Richard Fuller, president of Pure Earth, an international
nonprofit devoted to pollution cleanup. Then I think it dropped off the
radar for us in the West, and weve been worried more about climate change
and other things. But overseas, they havent looked at this issue much at
The researchers note that their data are likely underestimates and do not
reflect the entire burden of disease from pollution. For instance, the
researchers didnt look at other contaminants, like the effects of
endocrine disruptors, flame retardants and pesticides on human health and
early deaths. Fuller says there isnt data of high enough quality or
quantity on those health issues.
The countries that bear the greatest burden of disease from pollution are
also those that are rapidly expanding economically. The authors note that
both water and air pollution can be more common in countries in the early
stages of industrial development, but that significant increases in
pollution do not need to be the norm. The mindset of a lot of people is
that its either pollution or jobs, and you have to let an economy go
through this stage of being dirty until you can clean it up later, says
Fuller. But the idea that there is a tradeoff is not borne out by the
reality and facts. Well-managed pollution mitigation programs can create a
healthy economy and longterm growth.
The effects of pollution tend to disproportionally affect poor
populations, since they tend to be more exposed to toxic chemicals in air
and water at sources near their homes or at work.
This, too, is not inevitable, the report authors argue. Several high- and
middle-income countries, including the U.S., have put in place legislation
and regulation for cleaner air and water. Their air and water are now
cleaner, the blood lead concentrations of their children have decreased by
more than 90%, their rivers no longer catch fire, their worst hazardous
waste sites have been remediated, and many of their cities are less
polluted and more livable, the authors write.
The report offers recommendations, including making pollution a priority
both nationally and internationally, mobilizing funding dedicated to
pollution control, establishing monitoring systems, building multi-sector
partnerships to tackle the issue, integrating pollution mitigation into
non-communicable disease combatting strategies and conducting more
research into pollution and pollution control.
I hope that the people who are looking to set agendas for development are
paying some attention, says Fuller. I hope they have a wake-up call.