Pollution kills more people each year than war, AIDS, and malaria combined

  A landmark new study on the public health impacts of global pollution found that toxic air, water, and soil are responsible for the deaths of nine million people each year, more than the number that die from war, hunger, malaria, and AIDS — combined.

The study warned that pollution is so dangerous it “threatens the continuing survival of human societies.” According to the study, which pulled data from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ongoing Global Burden of Disease project, pollution accounts for 16 percent of deaths worldwide — 15 times more than deaths from war and conflict, and three times more than deaths from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined.

According to the study, outdoor air pollution from things like cars or industrial activity is responsible for some 4.5 million deaths each year, nearly half of all pollution-related deaths — a number that experts estimate will only increase in the coming years, with air pollution deaths in southeast Asia expected to double by 2050.

Another 2.9 million deaths come from indoor air pollution, from things like wood-burning stoves, which are still used throughout the developing world for heat and cooking.

Toxic water is responsible for another 1.8 million death each year; sewage-laced water, for instance, is often linked to illnesses like cholera or parasitic infections. Workplace pollution — prevalent in industrialized countries — accounts for some 800,000 deaths each year.

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