India and China lead the world in most pollution-linked deaths according to a report published by GAHP. The report also named ambient air pollution responsible for 40% of all pollution-related deaths, led by China, India and Pakistan.
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The report by the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP) found pollution to be the largest environmental cause of untimely death on the planet, causing 15% of all deaths – some 8.3 million people.
Among the 10 countries with the most pollution deaths in 2017, the latest year for which data was available, were some of the world’s largest and wealthiest nations, as well as some poorer ones.
India and China led in the number of pollution deaths, with about 2.3 million and 1.8 million respectively, followed by Nigeria, Indonesia and Pakistan. The US came seventh with almost 200,000 deaths.
“The report reminds us all that pollution is a global crisis,” said Rachael Kupka, acting executive director of GAHP. “It does not matter where you live. Pollution will find you.”
Pollution-linked deaths rates were highest in some of the world’s most impoverished countries where poor water sanitation and contaminated indoor air are major killers.
Chad, Central African Republic and North Korea saw the highest number of deaths per 100,000 people (287, 251 and 202 respectively), with India entering the per capita list at number 10 with 174 deaths.
“India has seen increasing industrial and vehicular pollution from urban growth while poor sanitation and contaminated indoor air persist in low-income communities,” the report said.
On the other end of the scale, five nations in the Arabian Peninsula ranked among the 10 countries in the world with the lowest death rates from pollution, with Qatar reporting the lowest.
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Drawing its data from the Institute of Health Metrics Evaluation, founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the report broke risk factors into four categories: air, water, occupational, and lead.
Air pollution represents a combination of household and outdoor contaminants as well as ozone, while water pollution included unsafe water and poor sanitation.
Occupational risk encompassed deaths from carcinogens, second-hand smoke, particulates, gases, and fumes, while lead pollution deaths were those associated with exposure to legacy emissions from leaded gasoline. This refers to the lead that was deposited, and still remains, in the soil from car exhausts.
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The report also named ambient air pollution responsible for 40% of all pollution-related deaths, led by China, India and Pakistan (1.2 million, 1.2 million and 130,000 respectively).
The number of global deaths linked to pollution just exceeded those from tobacco use, which stands at about 8 million, but greatly eclipsed deaths from alcohol and drugs, high-sodium diets, HIV, malaria, TB, and war, it said.