Pollution becomes cause of nine million deaths worldwide

Frederick Owens
October 21, 2017

One in six premature deaths around the world are caused by pollution, the report claims.

Deaths caused by pollution topped 9 million in 2015, or three times the figure from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined, and nearly 15 times as many as war and other forms of violence, scientists say.

In Europe, only Belgium had a worse record than the United Kingdom in the proportion of deaths attributed to pollution. The most severely affected countries include India, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Madagascar, and Kenya where up to a quarter of all deaths were caused by pollution.

With 1.58 million, China had the second-highest number of air pollution deaths after India (1.81 million).

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The study for The Lancet medical journal finds that Britain has the third highest rate of pollution deaths in western Europe, with 50,000 people dying each year, mostly through toxic traffic fumes.

Welfare losses due to pollution are estimated to cost more than United States dollars 4.6 trillion each year, equivalent to 6.2 per cent of global economic output, it said.

Workplace pollution, including exposure to toxins and carcinogens, was linked to 0.8 million deaths from diseases such as such pneumoconiosis in coal workers, bladder cancer in dye workers, and asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other cancers in workers exposed to asbestos.

While developed countries are far from immune from the hazards, their form of pollution are more "modern", like fossil fuel combustion and chemicals, while developing countries have biomass fuels.

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