Pollution linked to nine million deaths worldwide in 2015, equivalent to 1 in 6 deaths


Pollution is linked to an estimated nine million deaths each year worldwide – equivalent to one in six (16%) of all deaths, according to a major new report in The Lancet. Most of these deaths are due to non-communicable diseases caused by pollution such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The report finds that pollution as a result of outdoor and indoor air pollution, water and soil contamination, and chemical pollutants is one of the largest risk factors for premature death. With almost all of these deaths (92%) occurring in low- and middle-income countries, and pollution disproportionately affecting the poor and marginalised in every country worldwide, the authors of the report aim to end neglect of the issue across the political spectrum, and mobilise the will, resources, and the leadership needed to confront it.

The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health is a two-year project that has involved more than 40 international health and environmental authors. Using data from the Global Burden of Disease study, it brings together comprehensive estimates on the effects of pollution on health, provides economic costs, and reveals the extent of contaminated sites across the world for the first time.

“Pollution is much more than an environmental challenge – it is a profound and pervasive threat that affects many aspects of human health and wellbeing. It deserves the full attention of international leaders, civil society, health professionals, and people around the world,” says Commission co-lead, Professor Philip Landrigan, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, USA. “Despite its far-reaching effects on health, the economy and the environment, pollution has been neglected in the international assistance and the global health agendas, and some control strategies have been deeply underfunded. Our goal is to raise global awareness of the importance of pollution, and mobilise the political will needed to tackle it, by providing the most in-depth estimates of pollution and health available.”

Continue reading at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Image via Manish Swarup, Associated Press