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How Much of a Global Health Risk Is Pollution?

Globally, pollution claims far more lives than contagious diseases or war. Specifically, air and water pollution pose the greatest risk. In 2015, researchers found that 9 million deaths worldwide were caused by pollution, which is equivalent to one in every six premature deaths. A report published in 2017 by the Lancet Commission states that pollution -- in the form of air, water, soil, chemical, or occupational pollution -- is currently the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death in the world. Air pollution, which is most severe in highly populated, low-income cities, is the number one cause, followed by water pollution, and then by pollution hazards in the workplace.

More about pollution:

  • As of 2017, air pollution in urban areas is highest in countries in South Asia and the Middle East, such as Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, India, and Pakistan.

  • On the other hand, the country with the least air pollution in urban areas is Australia.

  • Workplace pollution, which particularly affects miners and factory workers, results in 800,000 deaths per year across the globe.

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