According to a recently published report, India suffers the most deaths linked to pollution of all countries, with approximately 2 million Indians a year losing their life to pollution-related factors. China and Nigeria follow India at the top of the list, with Chad, Central African Republic and North Korea having the highest number of pollution deaths per capita.
The report was carried out by the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP) and concluded that pollution is currently the largest environmental cause of premature death on the planet, causing 15% of all deaths (around 8.3 million people). Both large wealthy countries and poor smaller countries are among the top 10 sufferers of pollution-related deaths since 2017 (the most recent year for which this data is available).
The report drew its results from considering four risk factors: air (household/outdoor contaminants and ozone), water (unsafe water and poor sanitation), lead (exposure to legacy emissions from leaded gasoline) and occupational (carcinogens, second-hand smoke, particulates, gases, and fumes).
India and China recorded the highest number of deaths, with about 2.3 million and 1.8 million respectively, followed by Nigeria, Indonesia and Pakistan.
Meanwhile, five nations in the Arabian Peninsula ranked among the ten countries in the world with the lowest death rates from pollution, with Qatar reporting the most moderate. Rachael Kupka, acting executive director of GAHP, has said that “The report reminds us all that pollution is a global crisis,” and “It does not matter where you live. Pollution will find you.”
In some of the poorest countries in the world, where pollution-related death rates are the highest, lack of water sanitation as well as contaminated indoor air contributed heavily to the death toll. On India, the report revealed that the nation “has seen increasing industrial and vehicular pollution from urban growth while poor sanitation and contaminated indoor air persist in low-income communities,”
The report named ambient air pollution as the cause of 40% of all pollution-related deaths, led by China and India, both at 1.2 million. The number of global deaths linked to pollution exceeds those from tobacco use, which stands at about 8 million. It is also higher than the number of deaths from malaria, high-sodium diets, HIV, alcohol and drugs, TB, and war. These terrifying statistics show the escalation of pollution, which is killing the planet, its people, and is exacerbating the climate crisis. Governments must act.
By Will Rymer