In developing world, pollution kills more than disease

Pollution, not disease, is the biggest killer in the developing world, taking the lives of more than 8.4 million people each year, a new analysis shows. That’s almost three times the deaths caused by malaria and fourteen times those caused by HIV/AIDs. However, pollution receives a fraction of the interest from the global community.

“Toxic sites along with air and water pollution impose a tremendous burden on the health systems of developing countries,” said Richard Fuller, president of the Pure Earth/Blacksmith Institute, which prepared the analysis as part of The Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP). GAHP is a collaborative body of bilateral, multilateral, and international agencies, national governments, academia and civil society.

Air and chemical pollution is growing rapidly in these regions and when the total impact on the health of people is also considered, “the consequences are dire,” Fuller told IPS.

This future is entirely preventable as most developed countries have largely solved their pollution problems. The rest of the world needs assistance, but pollution has dropped off the radar in the current draft of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he said.

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On Sept 19, 2023 ahead of the Climate Ambition Summit in New York City, climate activists gathered for a rally and civil disobedience outside Bank of America Tower in Midtown Manhattan as part of the March to End Fossil Fuels wave of actions resulting in multiple arrests. Activists demand Bank of America to “Defund Climate Chaos and Defend Human Rights” Photo: Erik McGregor (CC BY-NC 2.0 Deed)

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Illustration by Stephanie McMillan. Used with permission