One in six premature deaths in 2015 could be attributed to disease caused by exposure to pollution, making it more deadly than war, natural disasters or hunger, a report in The Lancet medical journal has claimed.
“Almost all of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries, where pollution could account for up to a quarter of deaths. Bangladesh and Somalia were the worst affected,” the BBC says.
The report is the work of the Commission on Pollution and Health, an initiative of The Lancet, the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP), and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
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“Pollution is much more than an environmental challenge - it is a profound and pervasive threat that affects many aspects of human health and wellbeing," said Prof Philip Landrigan, the study's lead author.
Landrigan also said the one-in-six estimate, which totals at least nine million deaths per year, was “almost certainly an underestimate, probably by several million”.
“This is because scientists are still discovering links between pollution and ill health, such as the connection between air pollution and dementia, diabetes and kidney disease,” The Guardian says.
The study also found that pollution is also having a major economic impact around the globe.
“The financial cost from pollution-related death, sickness and welfare is equally massive, the report said, costing some (£3.59 trillion) in annual losses, or about 6.2 per cent of the global economy,” the ABC says.
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