9 million people die every year from pollution. This is 16% of all deaths worldwide and three times more deaths annually than from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. In 2015, deaths from pollution were 15 times greater than from all wars and other forms of violence globally. These findings are presented in a major report by The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health released in October 2017.
According to the Lancet Commission, pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death in the world today, and in the most severely affected countries pollution-related disease is responsible for more than one death in four.
Outdoor air pollution caused some 4.5 million deaths in 2015 (largely from vehicle and industrial emissions) and indoor air pollution (mainly from wood and dung cooking fires) caused around 2.9 million deaths. Air pollution deaths were largely as a result of heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. According to the Commission, the next biggest killers were polluted water (often from sewage) which was linked to 1.8m deaths mainly from gastrointestinal diseases and parasitic infections. Workplace pollution, including exposure to toxins and carcinogens resulted in 800,000 deaths. Lead pollution, the one metal for which some data was available, was linked to 500,000 deaths a year.
The report provides a comparison and reconciliation of global estimates of deaths from pollution between the two main sources of global mortality estimates; the Global Health Observatory of the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) estimates published most years by The Lancet. The Lancet states that its previous GBD study was “the most comprehensive worldwide observational epidemiological study to date.”
The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health Published online October 19, 2017. The Lancet, a peer-reviewed medical journal, is one of the World’s oldest (founded in 1823) and best known medical journals.
Global Health Observatory – Mortality and global health estimates World Health Organization (WHO}