What’s the news?
- Pollution caused nearly 9 million deaths in 2019, or about one in six deaths worldwide. This number had been unchanged since the last such analysis in 2015 by the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, according to a report published in The Lancet Planetary Health.
News in detail
- Pollution is still the largest existential threat to human and planetary health and jeopardizes the sustainability of modern societies.
- Although the number of deaths from pollution sources associated with extreme poverty (such as indoor air pollution and water pollution) declined, these reductions are offset by increased deaths attributable to industrial pollution (such as ambient air pollution and chemical pollution).
- Of the nine million pollution-attributable deaths in 2019, air pollution (both household and ambient) remains responsible for the greatest number of deaths at 6.67 million worldwide. Water pollution was responsible for 1.36 million premature deaths. Lead contributed 900,000 premature deaths, followed by toxic occupational hazards at 870,000 deaths.
- A report by “The Lancet in 2019” states that noxious air killed 1.67 million Indians in 2019, accounting for 18% of all fatalities.
- Excess deaths due to pollution have led to economic losses totalling $4.6 trillion in 2019, equating to 6.2% of global economic output.
- The study also notes pollution’s deep inequity, with 92% of pollution-related deaths, and the greatest burden of pollution’s economic losses, occurring in low-income and middle-income countries.
- Preventing pollution can also slow climate change, achieving a double benefit for planetary health and report calls for a massive, rapid transition away from all fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.
- The study calls for an independent, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC)-style science/policy panel on pollution, alongside increased funding for pollution control from governments, independent, and philanthropic donors, and improved pollution monitoring and data collection.