Monday, October 30, 2017

Pollution Tied to 9 Million Deaths Worldwide in 2015

Pollution led to more than 9 million deaths worldwide in 2015, or 1 in 6 deaths that year, a new report reveals. Air pollution, the worst culprit, was linked to 6.5 million heart and lung related deaths. The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health said.

Water pollution was tied to 1.8 million deaths, mostly from gastrointestinal and parasitic infections. And workplace related pollution and lead pollution also played a role, contributing o 800,000 deaths and 500,000 deaths respectively.

“Pollution is much more than an environmental challenge – it is a profound and pervasive threat that affects many aspects of human health and well-being,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, co-lead of the commission. “It deserves the full attention of international leaders, civil society, health professionals, and people around the world,” added Landrigan, a professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

The report is published in the Oct. 20 online issue of The Lancet. Two years in the making, it involved more than 40 international health and environmental authors.

“Our goal is to raise global awareness of the importance of pollution and mobilize the political will needed to tackle it, by providing the most in-depth estimates of pollution and health available,” Landrigan said in a journal news release.

Richard Fuller, who also led the commission, said the way to tackle pollution is to make it a priority in terms of planning, research and funding. He is a founder of Pure Earth, a nonprofit group involved in pollution cleanup and prevention.

“Pollution can be eliminated, and pollution prevention can be highly cost-effective – helping to improve health and extend life span, while boosting the economy,” said Fuller. This has been seen in richer countries where legislation has helped to curb the most flagrant forms of pollution, he added.

My Take:
Unfortunately, this study will not raise global awareness. It was published ten days ago by a well-respected medical journal and this is the first you have read or heard about it. There will be no national coverage of this story. This will not be discussed in the halls of congress or by the administration. We are just going to kick this can down the street.

Good science was dismissed long before we did the same to good journalism. If the data doesn’t suit our immediate needs, then we ignore or condemn it.

I have lived in South Florida for 48 years and been a certified diver over that same time frame. I have personally witnessed the decline in our ocean life from pollution – the fish populations, the dying reefs, the garbage in the water. There are a few bright spots – the planting of coral off the coast of the Keys and the return of some bait fish with the ban on gill netting. The damage we are reeking on our planet is undeniable but still we somehow turn a blind eye.

The Bottom Line:
Pollution is fixable and good science can make it feasible and affordable. But not until we achieve that global awareness Landrigan speaks off. Spread the word.

Source: October 20, 2017 National Institutes of Health

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