Environmental pollution kills more people every year than all wars and violence, smoking, hunger, natural disaster, as well as tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS combined.
Death Toll From Pollution
In 2015, 9 million deaths, or one out of six premature deaths that year, could be blamed to diseases from exposure to contaminated water and filthy air, findings of a new study published in the journal Lancet on Oct. 19 revealed.
The financial cost of death, sickness and welfare attributed to pollution was also found to be equally massive, costing about $4.6 trillion in yearly losses, which is equivalent to about 6.2 percent of the world's economy.
"There's been a lot of study of pollution, but it's never received the resources or level of attention as, say, AIDS or climate change," said study researcher Philip Landrigan, from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York.
The report revealed Africa and Asia as the regions that put the most people at risk. One in every four premature deaths In India, which topped the list of individual countries, was linked to pollution.
China, which has the second deadliest environment, sees one pollution-related death in every five premature deaths. About a fifth of premature deaths in North Korea, Bangladesh, Pakistan, South Sudan and Haiti, are likewise attributed to pollution.
"This is an immensely important piece of work highlighting the impact that environmental pollution has on death and disease," said WHO director of public health and the environment Maria Neira. "This is an unacceptable loss of lives and human development potential."
Health Effects Of Pollution
Pollution can cause serious and even fatal consequences. Figures from the World Health Organization have shown one in four children die due to pollution-related causes per year.
Air pollution leads to widespread respiratory infections, which include pneumonia. Unsafe water and substandard hygiene conditions are also attributed to over 300,000 deaths per years, which often happens because of diarrhea.
Research likewise revealed a correlation between levels of air pollution and brain damage. In a 2015 study, researchers found a link between levels of air pollution and a form of stroke caused by blood clot. Air pollutants produced by the burning of automobiles and wood can penetrate deep into the lungs, which can lead to strokes and cardiac arrests.
"Pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death in the world today. Diseases caused by pollution were responsible for an estimated 9 million premature deaths in 2015 — 16 percent of all deaths worldwide," the researchers reported in their study.