Pollution kills more people each year than war, AIDS, and malaria combined

Pollution kills more people each year than war, AIDS, and malaria combined

While nearly all (92%) pollution-related deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries, the greatest impacts are seen in countries that are undergoing rapid development and industrialisation - with pollution responsible for up to one in four deaths in the most severely affected countries like India, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Madagascar and Kenya.

"It" is pollution, the term we give to a wide range of contaminants humans put into the air, water and soil, often defending its harm as necessary in the name of economic growth.

Philip Landrigan, dean of global health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, and the lead author of the report, told HuffPost the study is the first and most comprehensive of its kind.

The report also insists on the economic weight of these lives cut short for the countries concerned: over 4,600 billion dollars each year, or the equivalent of 6.2% of global economic wealth.

"People in poorer countries - like construction workers in New Delhi - are more exposed to air pollution and less able to protect themselves from exposure, as they walk, bike or ride the bus to workplaces that may also be polluted".

Prof. Bruce Lanphear, the health science professor at the Simon Fraser University in his report, "The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health", has detailed about the adverse effects of pollution on people's health globally.

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The research said that pollution was the biggest cause of deaths around the world in 2015, followed by tobacco smoking, which claimed about 7.8 million lives.

"Pollution-related diseases cause productivity losses that reduce gross domestic product (GDP) in low-income to middle-income countries by up to 2 per cent each year". People who are sick or dead can not contribute to the economy. The young are not being given a chance to grow normally and without danger to their lungs and this can not be wished away by quibbling over how many deaths are caused by pollution and at what cost to the economy.

And unlike many health crises, like the AIDS epidemic, where the answer isn't immediately attainable, many sources of pollution can be easily diagnosed and remedied.

Further, Landrigan added that in addressing localized emissions on the city and country level, the world as a whole stands to benefit as they're a substantial contributors to global climate change. "The costs attributed to pollution-related disease will probably increase as additional associations between pollution and disease are identified", it said. "We have already started taking action based on the recommendations made by the two groups".

Previous reports have documented the health cost of environmental damage according to individual types of pollutants. Health advocates said that scrapping the rules, which never went into effect, would have reduced asthma and other respiratory illnesses.