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 1 in 6 deaths caused by pollution infographic
Graphic charts global deaths attributed to different types of pollution.


Pollution kills 9 million people a year

By Ninian Carter

May 18, 2022 - A report from Lancet Planetary Health journal says pollution kills as many people globally as smoking – around nine million per year. By comparison, Covid-19 has killed 6.7 million since 2020.

Increasing levels of air pollution and toxic lead poisoning have killed an estimated 9 million people every year since 2015, according to a new study published by The Lancet.

Air pollution caused by industry and urbanisation led to a 7% increase in pollution-related deaths from 2015 to 2019, according to scientific analysis of global mortality and pollution data.

The study’s co-author Richard Fuller says, “We’re sitting in the stew pot and slowly burning”.

When compared to other major issues like climate change, malaria, HIV or Covid-19 – which has killed 6.7 million people over two-and-a-half years – pollution receives far less focus.

Traditional pollution-related deaths from tainted water and soil and dirty indoor air are declining globally, but remain a major problem in Africa and some other developing countries.

Whereas, deaths from modern pollutants like heavy metals, agrochemicals and fossil fuels have leaped 66% since 2000.

The 10 countries most affected by deaths from pollution are:

1. Chad
2. Central African Republic
3. Niger
4. Solomon Islands
5. Somalia
6. South Africa
7. North Korea
8. Lesotho
9. Bulgaria
10. Burkina Faso

PUBLISHED: 19/05/2022; STORY: Graphic News