Devastating Study Reveals 9 Million People, Mostly in Asia, Die Every Year Because of Pollution

A recent study on global pollution has shockingly revealed that 9 million people, or about one in six, will die of complications related to poor air quality and contaminated water each year.

The recent findings, published last week by the Lancet Journal, are the result of a two year study involving researchers from over 130 countries. The findings reveal that the world’s air quality is now reaching a “crisis point” and that experts are sending out warnings to governments to deal with the matter urgently, The Independent reported.

Philip Landrigan, the dean of global health at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine who co-chaired the commission of the report revealed how devastating the new data was, according to The Washington Post:

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“Going into this, my colleagues and I knew that pollution killed a lot of people. But we certainly did not have any idea of the total magnitude of the problem. I think all of us were really surprised when we saw this.”

Air pollution, at least in the United Kingdom, is already killing around 50,000 people annually. In 2015, approximately nine million people died globally due to air pollution. Most of these deaths occurred in developing countries, but first-world nations also suffered from numerous deaths due to other pollution and unclean air, said on the report.

The pollution, or outdoor air that contained mercury, arsenic and other harmful particulates, and indoor air, polluted by burning wood, dung or other organic materials, resulted in 6.5 million deaths from related illnesses like heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and other respiratory problems.

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This report reveals the consequences air pollution can have when left unchecked. Air pollution is reaching crisis point worldwide, and the UK is fairing worse than many countries in Western Europe and the US. A contributing factor could be our dependence on diesel vehicles, notorious for pumping out a higher amount of poisonous particles and gases. These hit hardest people with a lung condition, children and the elderly. The Government should act immediately by using the Budget to amend the tax system to stop incentivising diesel vehicles, and finally commit to a new clean air act,” Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, Dr. Penny Woods, said in a statement.

These figures are a stark reminder of the deadly toll air pollution is having worldwide. Globally, we know an estimated 80 per cent of premature deaths from air pollution are caused by heart disease and stroke,” British Hearth Foundation chief executive, Simon Gillespie, said.

Apart from air pollution, water pollution from improper sanitation and contaminated drinking water accounted for 1.8 million deaths annually from various fatal infections and gastrointestinal diseases.

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Workplace pollution accounted for 800,000 deaths annually from bladder cancer in people who worked with dyes and lung disease pneumoconiosis in coal miners.

Most of the deaths that were recorded in growing countries like India, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Madagascar, and Kenya, which are all severely affected by pollution.

Both India and China are now the two leading countries when it comes to death toll from pollution. It was reported that around 2.2 million people have already died from pollution-related diseases in both countries.

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For the latter, China, the smog issue has become quite terrible that a person could lose two years of his/her life just by inhaling the thick fog of smoke covering some of the cities in the country, reports from last year suggested.

Water pollution has also become a terrible issue on a global scale. There are reportedly 10 rivers responsible for polluting 95% of the world’s oceans with plastic and 8 of them are found in Asia.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons / Kentaro (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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