Pollution Causes 9 Million Premature Deaths a Year
So says a study by the Lancet, which found that one in every six deaths around the world is linked to toxic air, water, soil, or workplaces. That’s more deaths than are caused annually by smoking, AIDS, or malaria.
Sadly, though perhaps predictably, 92 percent of those deaths occur in poor nations. That’s a problem exacerbated by the fact that international welfare costs linked to pollution are estimated to total $4.6 trillion a year, which places particular strain on developing economies. And all these figures may be an underestimate, the researchers note, because many links between health and pollution remain too poorly defined to be included in the analysis.
The report shows that so-called “traditional” forms of pollution, such as water contamination and poor indoor air quality from cooking over open fires, are in decline, thanks to development initiatives meant to increase basic living standards. But “modern” pollution, from such sources as fossil-fuel power plants and internal-combustion engines, continues to rise.