Pollution is Deadlier Than Wars, Disasters and Hunger
- India is perhaps the dirtiest and most polluted nation on the Planet
Environmental pollution is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world.
- More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters.
- More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
1 out of every 6 premature deaths in the world in Y 2015, about 9-M, could be attributed to disease from toxic exposure, according to a major study released Thursday in the Lancet medical journal.
The financial cost from pollution-related death, sickness and welfare is equally massive, the report says, costing some $4.6-T in annual losses, or about 6.2% of the global economy.
The report marks the first attempt to pull together data on disease and death caused by all forms of pollution combined.
Experts say the 9-M premature deaths the study found was just a partial estimate, and the number of people killed by pollution is undoubtedly higher and will be quantified once more research is done and new methods of assessing harmful impacts are developed.
Asia and Africa are the regions putting the most people at risk, the study found.
India tops the list of individual countries.
Many poorer countries have yet to make pollution control a priority, experts say. India has taken some recent actions, such as tightening vehicle and factory emission standards and occasionally limiting the number of cars on New Delhi’s roads. But they have done little about crop burning, garbage fires, construction dust or rampant use of the dirtiest fossil fuels.
To reach its figures on the overall global pollution burden, the study’s authors used methods outlined by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for assessing field data from soil tests, as well as with air and water pollution data from the Global Burden of Disease, an ongoing study run by institutions including the World Health Organization and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
Even the conservative estimate of 9-M pollution-related deaths is 1.5X higher than the number of people killed by smoking, three times the number killed by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined, more than 6X the number killed in road accidents, and 15X the number killed in war or other forms of violence, according to GBD tallies.
It is most often the world’s poorest who suffer, the study found.
The vast majority of pollution-related deaths;92% occur in low- or middle-income countries, where policy makers are chiefly concerned with developing their economies, lifting people out of poverty and building basic infrastructure.
Environmental regulations in those countries tend to be weaker, and industries lean on outdated technologies and dirtier fuels.
The report cites EPA research showing that the US has gained some $30 in benefits for each dollar spent on controlling air pollution since Y 1970, when Congress enacted the Clean Air Act, one of the world’s most ambitious environmental laws.
Removing lead from gasoline has earned the US economy another $6-T cumulatively since Y 1980, according to studies by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The study’s conclusions on the economic cost of pollution measure lost productivity and health care costs, while also considering studies measuring people’s “willingness to pay” to reduce the probability of dying. While these types of studies yield estimates at best, they are used by many governments and economists trying to understand how societies value individual lives.
There has never been an international declaration on pollution, but the topic is gaining traction.
The World Bank (WB) in April declared that reducing pollution, in all forms, would now be a global priority. And in December, the United Nations will host its 1st conference on the topic of pollution.
Have a terrific weekend.