A new report shows that pollution was the cause of 9 million deaths in 2019 – equivalent to one in six deaths worldwide – the figure has remained virtually unchanged since the last analysis in 2015.
The new report is an update for Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, published in Planetary Health Lancetand states that although the number of deaths from pollution sources associated with extreme poverty (such as indoor air pollution and water pollution) have decreased, this reduction is offset by an increase in mortality due to industrial pollution (e.g. ambient air pollution and chemical pollution).
“The effects of pollution on health remain enormous, and low- and middle-income countries bear the brunt of this burden. Despite the enormous impact on health, social and economic impacts, pollution prevention is largely ignored on the international development agenda,” he said. Richard Fuller, lead author. “Attention and funding have increased only minimally since 2015, despite a well-documented increase in public concern about pollution and its health consequences.”
“Pollution continues to be the greatest existential threat to human and planetary health and threatens the resilience of modern society. Pollution prevention can also slow climate change – achieving a double benefit for global health – and our report calls for a massive rapid transition from all fossil fuels to clean renewable energy, ”adds co-author Professor Philip Landrigan, director of the Global Public Health and Global Program. at Boston College.
2017 Lancet The Commission on Pollution and Health, using data from the Global Disease Severity Study (GBD) 2015, found that pollution has led to 9 million deaths – 16% of all deaths worldwide. The new report presents updated estimates of the impact of pollution on health based on the latest available GBD data for 2019 and methodological updates, as well as an assessment of trends from 2000.
Of the 9 million deaths due to pollution in 2019, air pollution (both at home and in the environment) remains the cause of the highest number of deaths at 6.67 million worldwide. Water pollution has caused 1.36 million premature deaths. Lead has caused 900,000 premature deaths and then 870,000 deaths from toxic occupational hazards.
The reduction in deaths from traditional environmental pollution since 2000 (air pollution in households from solid fuels and hazardous water) is most evident in Africa. This can be explained by improved water and sanitation, antibiotics and treatment, and cleaner fuels.
However, this reduction in mortality has been offset by a significant increase in deaths due to industrial pollution, such as ambient air pollution, lead pollution and other forms of chemical pollution, in all regions over the past 20 years. This is especially evident in Southeast Asia, where rising levels of industrial pollution are combined with an aging population and an increase in the number of people exposed.
Ambient pollution caused 4.5 million deaths in 2019 against 4.2 million deaths in 2015 and 2.9 million in 2000. Deaths from hazardous chemical pollutants increased from 0.9 million in 2000 to 1.7 million in 2015 to 2019 million. 900,000 deaths from lead pollution in 2019. Overall, the number of deaths from modern pollution has increased by 66 percent over the past two decades, from about 3.8 million deaths in 2000 to 6.3 million deaths in 2019. chemical pollutants are likely to be underestimated, as only a small number of commercially available chemicals have been properly tested for safety or toxicity.
Excessive deaths due to pollution have led to economic losses totaling $ 4.6 trillion in 2019, accounting for 6.2% of world economic output. The study also notes deep inequalities in environmental pollution: 92% of deaths from environmental pollution and the greatest burden of economic losses from pollution fall on low- and middle-income countries.
The authors of the new study conclude with eight recommendations based on those given in Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health. These include calls for the establishment of an independent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the style of the Pollution Research and Policy Group, as well as increased funding for pollution control by governments, independent and charitable donors, and improved pollution. monitoring and data collection. International organizations must also endorse and establish a better link between science and pollution policies, such as climate and biodiversity, initially with regard to chemicals, wasteand air pollution.
“Pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss are closely linked. Successful control of these combined threats requires a global formal scientific and policy interface to inform about intervention, impact on research and funding. Pollution is usually seen as a local problem to be addressed nationally. and national regulation or sometimes with regional policies in high-income regions, but it is clear that pollution is a global threat and that its factors, dispersal and impact on health go beyond local borders and require a global response. major modern pollutants, ”said Rachel Kupka, co-author and executive director of the Global Alliance for Health and Pollution.
Pollution and health: updating progress, Planetary Health Lancet (2022). www.thelancet.com/commissions/pollution-and-health
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