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Sustainability Quiz 58: Pollution related deaths

Sustainability Quiz 58: Pollution related deaths

Sustainability Quiz 58: Pollution kills more people on earth than pretty much anything else.Research also exposes its impact on the development of anxiety and depression

Pollution is really one of the great stealth killers. Three-quarters of the overall pollution deaths came from air pollution and the overwhelming part of that is "a combination of pollution from coal-fired power plants and steel mills on one hand and mobile sources like cars, trucks and buses.

The number of people killed by pollution each year is not well understood. How many were killed by pollution in 2022?
      1 million people 
      100,000 people 
      5 million people 
      9 million people

Traditional v modern pollution

A recent pollution study published in Lancet confirmed that 9 million people had died from pollution related illness in the past year. The study separated traditional contaminants from more modern pollutants. Examples of traditional contaminants are indoor smoke or wastewater. Modern pollutants include air pollution from vehicles or industrial activities and poisonous chemicals. 

The good news is that deaths from traditional pollutants are dropping worldwide - by significant amounts.

But modern kinds of pollution are rising in most countriesand deaths caused by modern pollutants – such as heavy metals, agricultural chemicals and carbon emissions – are "skyrocketing," according to study co-writer Rachael Kupka, with deaths linked to modern pollutants having risen 66 percent since 2000. (Kupka heads the New York-based Global Alliance on Health and Pollution.)

Pollution related deaths are rising steeply

In 2000, industrial air pollution killed about 2.9 million people a year globally. By 2015 it was up to 4.2 million and in 2019 it was 4.5 million, the study said. Toss in household air pollution, mostly from inefficient primitive stoves, and air pollution killed 6.7 million people in 2019, the study found. 

Lead pollution — some from lead additive which has been banned from gasoline in every country in the world and also from old paint, recycling batteries and other manufacturing — kills 900,000 people a year, while water pollution is responsible for 1.4 million deaths a year. Occupational health pollution adds another 870,000 deaths.

What can you do?

When pollution causes your death, the truth is that cause of death certificates don't say pollution. They list heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, other lung issues and diabetes that are "tightly correlated" with pollution by numerous epidemiological studies.

This means that recommendations to reduce pollution deaths really sit with better monitoring, better reporting and stronger government systems regulating industry and cars. VOTE.

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