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Pollution, by the numbers: Kills millions, costs trillions

Caroline Floyd

Friday, October 20, 2017, 17:03 - It kills more people than war, AIDS, malnutrition, or smoking, and we're not doing enough about it, according to a new study from The Lancet.

Named the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death, the study blames pollution of the air, soil, and water for millions of deaths and trillions in economic losses around the globe, every year.

We break down the study, by the numbers.

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1 in 4: The number of pollution-attributable premature deaths in India in 2015

1 in 6: deaths worldwide related to pollution in 2015

An image from the study, comparing development of children exposed to different levels of pesticide pollution. Image courtesy The Lancet.

3: Pollution kills 3 times as many people as AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined

15: Pollution kills 15 times as many people as war and other forms of violence

16: The percent of all global deaths in 2015 attributable to pollution

26: Percent of deaths in children younger than 5 associated with unhealthy environments, according to the World Health Organization

92: Percent of pollution-related deaths that occur in low-income and middle-income countries

Image courtesy The Lancet

9 million: The number of premature deaths caused by pollution in 2015

29 million: The number of people that have died as a result of modern pollutants - like car exhaust fumes and industrial waste - since 1990

200 billion: The return-on-investment for pollution control in the United States, each year since 1980

4.6 trillion: The economic loss, in U.S. dollars, due to pollution; 6.2 percent of the global economic output


140,000: How many new chemicals and pesticides that have been synthesized since 1950

5000: of those new chemicals which are produced in the greatest volume have become widely dispersed in the environment

Fewer than 1 in 2: of those new chemicals have been tested for safety or toxicity

Sources: The Lancet | PBS |

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