Pollution kills more people worldwide than HIV/Aids, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
HIV/Aids, malaria, tuberculosis. These deadly diseases continue to take horrible tolls on the lives of millions of people, especially in developing countries. Yet the combined death toll from these three diseases pales in comparison with the death toll caused by one silent but persistent killer: pollution.
So say researchers who recently published a recent study in the medical journal Lancet. Toxic pollution in its various forms from air pollution to water pollution kills three times more people every year than TB, HIV/Aids and malaria combined, they point out. Pollution, they write, “is the largest environmental cause of disease and death in the world today, responsible for an estimated 9 million premature deaths.”
The team of researchers analyzed data from more than 130 countries for over two years to see what could account as major causes of debilitating diseases and premature deaths in recent decades. They found that harmful particulates in the air, both indoors and outdoors, caused millions of premature deaths.
Then again, this should not come as a surprise. Plenty of previous research has yielded similar findings about the dangers of exposure to air pollution. According to researchers, in 2015 alone up to 2.5 million and 1.8 million people died, respectively, of causes attributable to air pollution in two of the world’s most polluted nations: India and China. These causes included heart disease, strokes, lung cancer and a host of respiratory problems.
“Going into this, my colleagues and I knew that pollution killed a lot of people. But we certainly did not have any idea of the total magnitude of the problem,” said Philip Landrigan, dean of global health at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine who worked on the study. “I think all of us were really surprised when we saw this.”