Most pollution-linked deaths occur in India

India gate air pollution

In absolute numbers, China (1.8 million) and India (2.5 million) had the most pollution-related deaths for the year 2015.

"Despite its substantial effects on human health, the economy, and the environment, pollution has been neglected, especially in low-income and middle-income countries, and the health effects of pollution are under-estimated in calculations of the global burden of disease".

"People in poorer countries - like construction workers in New Delhi - are more exposed to air pollution and less able to protect themselves from exposure, as they walk, bike or ride the bus to workplaces that may also be polluted". The results of the study were published in the journal The Lancet. Toxic water is responsible for another 1.8 million death each year; sewage-laced water, for instance, is often linked to illnesses like cholera or parasitic infections.

An overwhelming majority of pollution-related deaths - 92 percent - occur in less-developed countries.

"Although more than 70 per cent of the diseases caused by pollution are non-communicable diseases, interventions against pollution are barely mentioned in the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases".

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Globally, air pollution from vehicles and factories was the biggest killer, blamed for 6.5million deaths. The three deadliest communicable diseases - Aids, malaria and tuberculosis - were responsible for a combined 2.2 million deaths in the year. For instance, the study didn't take into account the effects of endocrine disruptors, pesticides, or flame retardants, all of which are widely used and known to contribute to premature death.

"People who are sick or dead can not contribute to the economy", he said, adding that sick people also often require the care of others, which adds additional cost.

An extensive study carried out by environmental experts found an alarmingly high percentage of all global premature deaths are linked to pollution, specifically airborne pollution.

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: "This report reveals the consequences air pollution can have when left unchecked".

"What people don't realize is that pollution does damage to economies". Before coming to the agency, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt sued the EPA to stop stricter regulations on the limits of allowable mercury and ozone from industry, and questioned the EPA's science on the relationship between methane emissions from the oil and gas industry and air pollution. "In other words, we need to move beyond a "do-no-harm" approach and ensure that development actively and explicitly improves the environmental and social conditions that give rise to, and expose populations to, disease", they add.

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