- Researchers examined the effects of pollution on public health between 2000 and 2019.
- They found that more than 9 million deaths worldwide, or 1 in 6 deaths globally, are linked to pollution.
- He says that pollution-focused policies are needed to curb the effects of pollution on public health and the climate.
Pollution is an unwanted waste of human origin that is released into the air, land and water.
Monitoring the effects of pollution on public health can help develop policies to prevent negative health consequences.
Recently, researchers have updated the 2017 Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health
Although deaths from household and water pollution have declined since 2015, pollution caused more than 9 million deaths worldwide in 2019.
“Given the lack of priority for a sustainable environment, I am not surprised that we have not made progress in reducing pollution-related health. [issues] over the past 5 years,” Dana Boyd Barr, PhD, professor of exposure science and environmental health at Emory University, not involved in the report, pointed out. Medical News Today.
“The US has some of the most comfortable environmental policies globally and is a significant contributor to global pollution. Deaths due to environmental pollution in this article are likely underestimated due to pollutants yet to be identified. The rest,” she said.
Analysis: Pollution deaths
The researchers used 2019 data from the Global Burden of Disease, Injury and Risk Factor Study (GBD). They also assessed trends after 2000.
The researchers noted that, between 2000 and 2019, there has been a steady decline in deaths from household air pollution and water sanitation, especially in Africa. They suggest that the decline is mainly due to improvements in water supply, sanitation, antibiotics and clean fuels.
However, deaths from other forms of pollution have increased. Ambient particulate matter air pollution was responsible for 4.5 million deaths in 2019, up from 4.2 million in 2015 and 2.9 million in 2000.
“According to the report, ambient particulate matter air pollution, most of which results from the combustion of fossil fuels, is responsible for more than 4 million deaths per year,” said Dr. Robert Dubrow, PhD, an epidemiology professor. at Yale University which is not included in the report.
“The use of fossil fuels for energy is also the main source of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions leading to climate change,” he continued.
The researchers also found that more than 90% of pollution-related deaths occurred in low-income and middle-income countries, particularly in South Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia.
The researchers further noted that although their data suggested that lead exposure was responsible for 0.9 million deaths in 2019, the figure is likely to be larger.
The severe effects on cognitive function of lead exposure result in global economic losses of $1 trillion per year.
The researchers also noted that the burden of disease from chemical pollution may have been underestimated. Of the thousands of chemicals manufactured in commerce, only a few have been adequately tested for safety and toxicity.
The most concerning effects of these chemical pollutants include poorly documented risks for developmental neurotoxicity, reproductive toxicity, and immunotoxicity.
The researchers said that since their last report and recommendations in 2017 there has been “very little effort” in most countries to create policies to prevent pollution-related consequences on health.
Nevertheless, they once again recommend prioritizing pollution and health security at the national and international level. He further recommended:
- Increasing international funding for the prevention of pollution
- Establishing systems to monitor and control pollution
- Monitoring of lead and chemical pollution
- Monitoring of water, sanitation and hygiene
- Creation of multi-sectoral partnership for pollution control
The researchers concluded that international organizations and national governments should continue to focus on pollution as a global environmental issue.
Asked what the public could do to alleviate the situation, Marianti-Anna Kiomortzoglu SCD, assistant professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University not involved in the report, said there was little the public could do.
She notes: “Ambient air pollution is such a ubiquitous risk and can even penetrate our homes and apartments by penetrating the building envelope.”
He said personal practices such as heeding warnings on high pollution days, changing cooking methods and taking mass transit over single-occupancy driving would minimize risks.
Dr. Dana Boyd Barr and Dr. Kiumortzoglu both agreed that local and federal policies need to restrict polluting practices for a substantial reduction.
“Given the large number of deaths from particulate matter air pollution, even if climate change is not an issue, converting from fossil fuels to non-polluting renewable energy will be an urgent public health priority,” said Dr. “We have the technology to make this transition. What we lack is political will,” Dubrow said.
“The public in the US and UK need to elect representatives who are indifferent to the fossil fuel industry and who support vigorous environmental action, including funding to help low- and middle-income countries make this transition.” he explained.
He concluded, “Climate change and pollution are both global problems that require global solutions, and it is in the interest of the US and UK people to help make this transition happen globally.”