October 10, 2017

Author: Christopher Cox

Category: Learn

Report: Global Pollution Kills One in Six People

Air_Pollution_in_DhakaAn extraordinary new medical study reveals that pollution kills nine million people every year. Put another way, that is at least one of every six deaths on the planet, and the tally could be higher as the consequences of pollution remain poorly understood.

The report from The Lancet Commission on pollution and health makes a stark claim:

Pollution disproportionately kills the poor and the vulnerable. Nearly 92% of pollution-related deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries and, in countries at every income level, disease caused by pollution is most prevalent among minorities and the marginalised. Children are at high risk of pollution-related disease and even extremely low-dose exposures to pollutants during windows of vulnerability in utero and in early infancy can result in disease, disability, and death in childhood and across their lifespan.

The Lancet, a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal, is one of the world’s oldest and best known general medical journals.

One graphic from the study illustrates the global impact of pollution deaths by country:

Figure 8 Number of deaths per 100 000 people that are attributable to all forms of pollution, 2015 GBD Study, 2016.42

Figure 8
Number of deaths per 100 000 people that are attributable to all forms of pollution, 2015
GBD Study, 2016.42

While the study does not make this claim, it does not surprise us, given the garment industry’s vast contribution to the world’s pollution, that countries that make a lot of clothes also have a lot of people die from pollution with India and Bangladesh among the highest per capita deaths attributable to pollution. Again, while the study does not make a formal empirical correlation, it may not be too strong to say that “our clothing kills.” Pollution from chemicals in cotton fields, from the petroleum-based synthetic fibers, from the dyes, and from the disposal of our clothing in landfills, creates a deadly toxic mess.

The Guardian provided an excellent summary of the study here.

A one-page info-graphic, provided by The Lancet, about the studies finding can be found here.