Sunday, May 28, 2023

Global pollution kills 9 million people every year, study finds

A new study blames all forms of pollution for 9 million deaths a year globally, with the death toll from dirty air from cars, trucks and industry rising 55% since 2000.

This increase is offset by fewer pollution deaths from primitive indoor stoves and water contaminated with human and animal waste, so total pollution deaths in 2019 are the same as in 2015.

According to a new study in The Lancet Planetary Health journal, the United States is the only fully industrialized country among the top 10 countries for total pollution deaths, with 142,883 deaths on pollution in 2019, ranked 7th, followed by Bangladesh. and Ethiopia is sandwiched between. Tuesday’s pre-pandemic study is based on calculations from the Global Burden of Disease database and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle. India and China lead the world in pollution deaths, with about 2.4 million and 2.2 million deaths annually, but both countries also have the world’s largest populations.

When deaths are factored into the per population rate, the United States ranks 31st from the bottom with 43.6 pollution deaths per 100,000. Chad and the Central African Republic rank highest with pollution deaths per 100,000, more than half of which are attributable to contaminated water, while Brunei, Qatar and Iceland have pollution deaths between 15 and 23. is the lowest. The global average is 117 pollution deaths per 100,000 people.

The study said that pollution kills the same number of people in a year worldwide as cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke combined.

“9 million deaths is a lot of deaths,” said Philip Landrigan, director of the Global Public Health Program and Global Pollution Observatory at Boston College.

“The bad news is it’s not going down,” Landrigan said. “We’re making a profit in the easy stuff and we’re seeing the more difficult stuff, which is ambient (outdoor industrial) air pollution and chemical pollution, which is still on the rise.”

It doesn’t have to be this way, the researchers said.

“They are preventable deaths. Every single one of them is a death that is unnecessary,” said Dr. Lynn Goldman, dean of the George Washington University School of Public Health, who was not part of the study. She said the calculations make sense and if anything. was so conservative about attributing it to pollution, that the actual death rate is likely to be higher.

The certificates of these deaths do not say pollution. Landrigan said they list heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, other lung issues and diabetes, which are “strongly correlated” with pollution from multiple epidemiological studies. Then to link these with actual deaths, researchers calculate the number of deaths from causes, exposure to pollution weighted for a variety of factors, and then complex those derived from large epidemiological studies based on thousands of people over decades of studies. Do the risk response calculations, he said. , This is similar to the way scientists can say that cigarettes cause deaths from cancer and heart disease.

“That cannon of information constitutes causation,” Landrigan said. “that’s how we do it.”

Five outside experts on public health and air pollution, including Goldman, told The Associated Press that the study follows mainstream scientific thought. Dr. Renee Salas, an emergency room physician and Harvard professor who was not part of the study, said, “The American Heart Association determined a decade ago that exposure to[small pollution particles]produced by the burning of fossil fuels was is the cause of heart disease and death.”

“While people focus on lowering their blood pressure and cholesterol, some believe that eliminating air pollution is an important prescription for improving their heart health,” Salas said.

Air pollution accounts for three-quarters of total pollution deaths, and the bulk of it is “a combination of pollution from stationary sources such as coal-fired power plants and steel mills on the one hand and mobile sources such as cars, trucks and buses.” And it’s just a huge global problem,” said Landrigan, a public health physician. “And it’s getting worse around the world as countries develop and cities grow.”

In New Delhi, India, air pollution peaks in the winter months and last year the city saw only two days when the air was not considered polluted. This was the first time in four years that the city experienced clean air during the winter months.

Anumita Roychowdhury, a director of the advocacy group Center for Science and Technology, said air pollution remains the leading cause of death in South Asia, which is already known, but the increase in these deaths means toxic emissions from vehicles and energy production. is growing. Environment in New Delhi.

“This is a reminder of the data being wrong, but it is also an opportunity to correct it,” Roychowdhury said.

Experts said pollution-related deaths are on the rise in the poorest areas.

“The problem is worst in regions of the world where the population is most dense (Asia for example) and where financial and government resources to address the pollution problem are limited and there are many challenges to be addressed, including health care availability and diet. pollution,” said Dan Greenbaum, president of the Health Effects Institute, who was not part of the study.

In 2000, industrial air pollution killed approximately 2.9 million people per year globally. The study said that by 2015 it was up to 42 lakhs and in 2019 it was 45 lakhs. Toss in household air pollution, mostly from inefficient primitive stoves, and air pollution killed 6.7 million people in 2019, the study found.

Lead pollution – from some lead additive that is banned from gasoline in every country in the world and from old paint, recycled batteries and other manufacturing – kills 900,000 people a year, while water pollution is responsible for 1.4 million deaths a year . The study says that occupational health pollution causes 870,000 more deaths.

In the United States, about 20,000 people a year die from lead pollution-induced hypertension, heart disease and kidney disease, mostly as occupational hazards, Landrigan said. Lead and asbestos are America’s major chemical occupational hazards, and they kill about 65,000 people a year from pollution, he said. The number of air pollution deaths in the United States in 2019 was 60,229, far more than the number of deaths on US roads, which reached a 16-year peak of nearly 43,000 last year, the study said. Was.

Modern types of pollution are increasing in most countries, especially in developing countries, but fell from 2000 to 2019 in the United States, the European Union and Ethiopia. Study co-author Richard Fuller, founder of the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution and president of Pure Earth, a nonprofit that works on pollution cleanup programs, said Ethiopia’s numbers cannot be quite explained and This may be a reporting issue. In about a dozen countries.

The study authors highlight the need for better monitoring, better reporting, and stronger government systems regulating industry and cars, with eight recommendations to reduce pollution deaths.

“We absolutely know how to solve every single one of those problems,” Fuller said. “What is missing is political will.”


Anirudh Ghoshal contributed from New Delhi, India.

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