Pollution's Deadly Toll

16% of deaths worldwide are linked to pollution—the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death.

The startling numbers from The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health reveal pollution’s deadly impact, especially for poorer countries:

  • Pollution caused 9 million premature deaths in 2015.
  • Dirty air, water and soil are linked to asthma, cancer, birth defects and heart disease.
  • 92% of deaths are in quickly industrializing low- and middle-income countries with weak environmental oversight.


The Quote: “This is a winnable battle,” lead author Philip Landrigan told NPR’s Susan Brink. “[R]ich countries have done it. In 1969, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland was so polluted, it caught fire. Today, people kayak down that river.”

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Related: India tops global pollution deaths of 9 million a year – study – Thomson Reuters Foundation

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