It has come to light that each year global pollution is killing approximately the same amount of people as cigarette smoking across the world. A pre-covid study published recently has claimed that this pollution is causing 9 million deaths every single year.
The study published in The Lancet Planetary Health further points out that while there have been lesser pollution deaths from primitive indoor stoves and water contaminated with human and animal waste, the number of pollution deaths in 2019 is almost equivalent to 2015 since dirty air from cars, trucks and industry has shot up by 55% since 2000.
Philip Landrigan, director of the Global Public Health Program and Global Pollution Observatory at Boston College said, “The bad news is that it’s not decreasing. We are making gains in the easy stuff and we are seeing the more difficult stuff, which is the ambient outdoor industrial air pollution and the chemical pollution, still going up.”
Out of the top 10 nations on the list, the United States is the only fully industrialized nation ranked at 7th. However, China, India and US all have a massive population, hence more deaths. The global average is 117 pollution deaths per 100,000 people and on a per population rate, Chad and the Central African Republic had the highest deaths with about 300 pollution deaths per 100,000 while Brunei, Qatar and Iceland had the lowest pollution death rates ranging from 15 to 23.
Dr Lynn Goldman, dean of the George Washington University School of Public Health argued that they are preventable deaths. Goldman said, “Each and every one of them is a death that is unnecessary.” She added, “Lot of deaths from heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, other lung issues and diabetes that are “tightly correlated” with pollution by numerous epidemiological studies but they don’t say death by pollution on the certificate.”
As per the report, the problem worsens in densely populated areas such as South Asia including India where financial and government resources to address the pollution problem are limited. Anumita Roychowdhury, Director of Centre for Science and Environment based in New Delhi confirmed that air pollution remains the leading cause of death in South Asia attributing mainly to the toxic emissions from vehicles and energy generation.