India tops the world in pollution-related deaths

Rafiq Maqbool  Associated Press                       Morning smog shown enveloping the skyline in Mumbai India on Oct. 20 2017

It is also 15 times the number of people killed in war or other forms of violence. It is a bigger killer than the smoking, hunger and natural disasters.

One in every six of the 9 million premature deaths worldwide in 2015 could be attributed to diseases caused by toxins in air or water, the study says. The medical journal called "tackle emergency situation" and to overcome "the myth according to which pollution would be an inevitable effect of economic development".

The study said the overwhelming majority of pollution-related deaths come in developing countries where the authors say leaders are more concerned about building their economies and infrastructure than environmental regulations. "Southeast Asia includes India and the western Pacific region includes China", said the study.

"There's been a lot of study of pollution, but it has never received the resources or level of attention as, say, Aids or climate change", Landrigan said.

"Pollution is much more than an environmental challenge-it is a profound and pervasive threat that affects many aspects of human health and wellbeing". Workplace pollution - prevalent in industrialized countries - accounts for some 800,000 deaths each year. But this report, by the Lancet Commission on pollution and health, "is the first time that it has all been brought together under one umbrella", said study coauthor Richard Fuller, president of the nonprofit Pure Earth. India and China tallied the highest numbers of such deaths, with 2.5 million and 1.8 million respectively.

News agency PTI reported that the online indicators of the pollution monitoring stations in Delhi on Diwali nigh glowed red, indicating a "very poor" air quality as the volume of ultra fine particulates PM2.5 and PM10, which enter the respiratory system and manage to reach the bloodstream, sharply rose from around 7 pm.

Bangladesh, China, Haiti, India, Pakistan, North Korea and South Sudan are some of the most affected countries.

"The key messages are that pollution has a major impact on health, particularly in low and middle income countries, and it actually costs more to do nothing than to implement proven solutions".

Pollution, the report said, was also "costly", costing some Dollars 4.6 trillion in annual losses - or about 6.2 per cent of the global economy. Developing economies have the financial burden of fighting the causes of pollution (the welfare-linked costs of which are estimated to be roughly $4.6 trillion a year) while at the same time handling its repercussions.

"What people don't realize is that pollution does damage to economies", Richard Fuller, the head of Pure Earth, an global nonprofit that studies pollution impacts in low- and middle-income countries, told the AP.

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