Urgent global action required to tackle killer air pollution

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Even as national capital Delhi reels under heightened air pollution levels following Diwali celebrations, a report has said that pollution led to 2.5 million deaths in India in 2015 -the highest in the world.

According to the report by 40 worldwide scientists, the number of pollution-related deaths stood at 9 million, and the vast majority occurred in developing countries, mentions Times Now.

Environmental pollution seems to have become the number one killer, claiming more lives every year than all wars or violence in the world.

India was closely followed by China, which saw 1.8 million deaths due to pollution during the year.

Most of these deaths happened through heart diseases, stroke, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), researchers said.

The next largest risk factor, water pollution, accounted for 1.8 million deaths, while pollution in the workplace was linked to 800,000 deaths globally.

The report is published in the October 20 online issue of The Lancet. The young in India are not being given a chance to grow normally and without danger to their lungs and this can not be wished away by quibbling over how many deaths are caused by pollution and at what cost to the economy.

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Certainly, pollution is much more than an environmental challenge - it is a profound and pervasive threat that affects many aspects of human health and well-being.

Meanwhile, high blood pressure, kidney failure and heart disease contributed to deaths related to lead pollution.

The study also held that nearly all pollution-related deaths-about 92%-occur in low- and middle-income countries; and in rapidly industrializing countries-India, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Madagascar and Kenya-deaths due to pollution can account for up to one in four.

The report authors said many emerging chemical pollutants remain unidentified, so the report likely underestimates the true extent of pollution-related disease and death.

"Pollution can be eliminated, and pollution prevention can be highly cost-effective - helping to improve health and extend life span, while boosting the economy", said Fuller. Water pollution included unsafe sanitation and polluted water sources.

For decades, pollution and its harmful effects on people's health, the environment, and the planet have been neglected both by policymakers across the world and the global development agenda.

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