According to a new study, pollution is responsible for the deaths of 9 million people each year

Traffic moves at dusk in New Delhi, home to some of the world’s most polluted air. (Manish Swarup/AP)

A new study attributes 9 million fatalities annually to pollution of all forms, with the mortality toll attributable to lousy air from vehicles, trucks, and industries increasing by 55 percent since 2000.

This rise is mitigated by fewer pollution-related deaths from primitive indoor stoves and water contaminated with human and animal waste. Thus the total number of pollution-related deaths in 2019 is roughly equivalent to 2015.

According to a new study published in The Lancet Planetary Health, the United States is the only fully industrialized nation in the top 10 countries for overall pollution mortality, with 142,883 deaths attributed to pollution in 2019, sandwiched between Bangladesh and Ethiopia Tuesday's pre-pandemic analyst figures were drawn from the Global Burden of Disease database and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle. India and China have roughly 2.4 million and almost 2.2 million pollution-related deaths annually, respectively, but they also have the world's largest populations.

With 43.6 pollution-related deaths per 100,000 people, the United States ranks 31st from the bottom in the world. Moreover, half of the pollution-related deaths in Chad and the Central African Republic are attributable to contaminated water. At the same time, Brunei, Qatar, and Iceland have the lowest rates, ranging from 15 to 23 per 100,000. The global average for pollution-related mortality is 117 per 100,000 persons.

The study found that pollution kills almost the same number of people a year as cigarette and passive smoking combined.

According to Philip Landrigan, head of the Global Public Health Program and Global Pollution Observatory at Boston College, nine million deaths are significant.

Landrigan stated, "The bad news is that it is not decreasing." The ambient (outside industrial) air pollution and chemical pollutants continue to increase, but we are making progress on the less challenging issues.

According to academics, this is not inevitable.

"These fatalities are preventable. Dr. Lynn Goldman, dean of the George Washington University School of Public Health who was not involved in the study, said, "Every one of them is an unnecessary death." She stated that the figures were reasonable and, if anything, we're so conservative in attributing deaths to the pollution that the actual death toll is likely to be higher.

The certificates for these deaths make no mention of pollution. According to Landrigan, they identify heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, various lung problems, and diabetes as being "tightly correlated" with pollution. Afterward, he explained that researchers examine the number of deaths by cause, exposure to pollution weighted by many parameters, and then complex exposure-response calculations obtained from massive epidemiological studies involving thousands of people over decades of study. Similarly, scientists can assert that smoking causes cancer and heart disease mortality.

"This informational cannon constitutes causality," stated Landrigan. "This is the way we do it."

Five external experts in public health and air pollution, including Goldman, told The Associated Press that the report adheres to the accepted scientific consensus. Dr. Renee Salas, an emergency room physician and Harvard professor who was not involved in the study, stated, "The American Heart Association determined more than a decade ago that exposure to (tiny pollution particles) such as those produced by the burning of fossil fuels causes heart disease and death."

"While people concentrate on lowering their blood pressure and cholesterol, few realize that removing air pollution is a crucial prescription for improving their heart health," Salas added.

Three-quarters of all pollution-related deaths were attributable to air pollution, the majority of which is a combination of pollution from stationary sources such as coal-fired power plants and steel mills and pollution from mobile sources such as vehicles, trucks, and buses. And it's a major global issue," said Landrigan, a public health doctor. As countries develop and cities expand, the problem is exacerbated globally.

In New Delhi, India, air pollution increases during the winter months, and the city had only two days of clean air in the past year. It was the first time in four years that the city saw a winter day with clean air.

The fact that air pollution continues to be the leading cause of death in South Asia confirms what is already known. Still, these deaths indicate that toxic emissions from vehicles and energy generation are increasing, according to Anumita Roychowdhury, director of the Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi.

"This data is a reminder of what is going wrong, but also a chance to fix it," said Roychowdhury.

According to experts, pollution-related mortality is growing in the poorest communities.

Dan Greenbaum, president of the Health Effects Institute, who was not involved in the study, said, "This problem is most severe in regions of the world where population density is highest, such as Asia, and where financial and government resources to address the pollution problem are limited and stretched thin to address a host of challenges, including health care availability and diet as well as pollution."

Globally, industrial air pollution killed around 2,9 million people per year in 2000. According to the report, the number increased to 4,2 million by 2015 and 4.5 million by 2019. Including residential air pollution, primarily from inefficient essential stoves, the study found that air pollution killed 6,7 million people in 2019.

The annual mortality toll due to lead pollution is 900,000, while water pollution is 1,400,000. The study found that occupational health pollution causes an additional 870,000 fatalities.

Landrigan stated that in the United States, around 20,000 people each year die from lead pollution-induced hypertension, heart disease, and renal disease, primarily due to industrial hazards. Lead and asbestos are the most significant chemical occupational risks in the United States, and they kill approximately 65,000 people annually due to pollution, he said. According to the report, the number of air pollution-related deaths in the United States in 2019 was 60,229, significantly more than the number of deaths on American roads, which reached a 16-year high of about 43,000 last year.

Modern forms of pollution are on the rise in most nations, particularly emerging nations, but they decreased between 2000 and 2019 in the United States, the European Union, and Ethiopia. According to study co-author Richard Fuller, founder of the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution and president of Pure Earth, a non-profit that implements pollution clean-up programs in about a dozen countries, Ethiopia's numbers are difficult to explain. They may be the result of a reporting error.

The study's authors developed eight recommendations to reduce pollution-related mortality, emphasizing the need for improved monitoring, reporting, and government systems regulating industry and automobiles.

Fuller stated, "We absolutely know how to solve each of these issues." The issue is a lack of political will.

Publish : 2022-05-18 09:18:00

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