Pollution killed 25 lakh people in India in one year – highest in the world: Report
Applying similar legislation and regulation from high-income countries to low- and middle-income countries could help to improve and protect health as countries develop.
While the leaders of the ruling political party are trying to politicize the firecracker ban imposed in Delhi by the Supreme Court, India has achieved another milestone – highest number of deaths due to various kinds of pollutions.
The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health released its report on October 19. As per the report, air pollution is the biggest killer of all.
The report said out of total 6.5 million (65 lakhs) deaths reported worldwide, 28% occurred only in India. Air pollution mainly resulted in diseases such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and COPD.
Almost all (92%) pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
The findings of the say that in 2015, pollution killed about 2.5 million (25 lakhs) people. China reported the second highest number of deaths at 1.8 million (18 lakhs) during the same year.
It implies that air pollution kills doubt the number of people killed by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
The next largest risk factor was water pollution the caused gastrointestinal diseases and parasitic infections.Workplace pollution including exposure to toxins and pneumoconiosis in coal workers, bladder cancer in dye workers, and asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other cancers in workers exposed to asbestos.
Finally, lead pollution resulted from high blood pressure, renal failure, and cardiovascular disease caused by lead in adults.
As per the report, human activities, including industrialisation, urbanisation, and globalisation, are all drivers of pollution.
Types of pollution associated with industrial development, such as ambient air pollution (including ozone), chemical, occupational pollution and soil pollution, have increased from 4.3 million (9.2%) in 1990 to 5.5 million (10.2%) in 2015 as countries reach higher levels of development.
The greatest impacts occured in countries that are currently undergoing rapid development and industrialisation – with pollution responsible for up to one in four deaths in the most severely affected countries (such as in India, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Madagascar and Kenya).
As countries develop and industrialise, the type of pollution and the related health problems they face change.
For example, water pollution and household air pollution are more common in early stages of industrial development, causing higher rates of pneumonia and diarrhoeal diseases in low- and middle-income countries.
Economic costs of pollution
The costs of pollution-related death and disease are also highly concentrated in developing regions imposing vast costs on national budgets – equivalent to around 1.3% GDP in low-income countries, compared to around 0.5% GDP in high-income countries, and 0.13% GDP globally. Healthcare spending on pollution-related diseases also disproportionately affects lower income countries – accounting for an estimated 7% of health spending in middle-income countries each year, and 1.7% annual spend in high-income countries.
Welfare losses due to deaths and disease from pollution equate to US$4.6 trillion each year (equivalent to 6.2% of global economic output). Proportionately, low-income countries pay 8.3% of their gross national income to pollution-related death and disease, while high-income countries pay 4.5%.
The environmental injustice often violates these people’s human rights.
Pollution, poverty, poor health, and social injustice are deeply intertwined. Pollution and related diseases most often affect the world’s poor and powerless, and victims are often the vulnerable and the voiceless. As a result, pollution threatens fundamental human rights, such as the right to life, health, wellbeing, safe work, as well as protections of children and the most vulnerable
Says Commission author Karti Sandilya, Pure Earth, USA.
In order to tackle pollution, we must prioritise it as an issue that affects us all, integrating it into health planning, and increasing funding to allow more research into pollution, such as monitoring pollution and its effects, and developing ways to control pollution,
says Commission co-lead, Richard Fuller, Pure Earth, USA.
Pollution can be eliminated, and pollution prevention can be highly cost-effective – helping to improve health and extend lifespan, while boosting the economy. This has been seen in high-income and some middle-income countries where legislation has helped to curb the most flagrant forms of pollution, and has led to cleaner air and water, lower blood lead concentrations, removal of hazardous waste sites, and less polluted and more liveable cities, the report further said.
The report suggest that pollution is not the inevitable consequence of economic development, and applying similar legislation and regulation from high-income countries to low- and middle-income countries could help to improve and protect health as countries develop.
Top Photo: Hindustan Times