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Global pollution kills at least 9 million people a year - 20th October

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Toxic air, water, soils and workplaces are responsible for the diseases that kill one in every six people around the world and because the impact of many pollutants is poorly understood, the true total could be millions higher.

The most comprehensive global analysis to date found that air pollution was the biggest killer, leading to a majority of major illnesses including heart disease, strokes and lung cancer with vehicles and industry being the major pollution sources. Pollution of water, often with sewage, was the second biggest killer, with gastrointestinal diseases and parasitic infections being the major killers.

3rd world and developing countries are the worst affected, with 92% of the world’s pollution related deaths in these countries. India has by far the largest number of pollution related deaths at 2.5 million, due to the high rates of both traditional and modern pollution, with China in second with 1.8m, however both Russia and the US are in the top 10.

Alongside the staggering human cost of pollution come the massive welfare losses of an estimated $4.6 trillion a year, more than 6% of the global GDP. This huge cost is a heavy burden on the economies of developing countries and can prevent them from combating these issues further, potentially creating a vicious cycle of pollution related deaths.

Awareness of these issues is an important first stage but further steps need to be taken to reduce this massive and growing issue.

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