A GLOBAL POLLUTION OBSERVATORY HUNTS FOR HIDDEN KILLERS

WIRED | 7/8/2019 | Zak Jason
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Diseases caused by pollution killed more than 9 million people in 2015, 16 percent of all deaths worldwide. That’s three times more deaths than from AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined, and 15 times more than from wars and other violence. If those figures surprise you, it might be because your first thought is that pollution means dirty air. Or you may think of contaminated water. In reality, pollution is both those things and much more, and only now is the first global effort to assess all forms of it finally calculating those sobering numbers.

Between productivity losses and healthcare, pollution costs some $5 trillion a year, more than 6 percent of global economic output. That’s just from tallying what’s known. The vast majority of the more than 140,000 chemicals and pesticides that have entered the environment since 1950 remain largely untested but could pose a threat. Pollution, as epidemiologists understand it today, is any substance in the air, water, or soil that can harm human health.

Teeth - Megalodon - Report - Lancet - Commission

These are just a few teeth on the megalodon of a report called The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, which was issued in October 2017. It marked the first global assessment of the “neglected stepchild that is pollution,” says Philip Landrigan, a pediatrician and epidemiologist who co-led the commission. Responding to that neglect, the British medical journal The Lancet then assembled a team of 52 that included economists, physicians, nutritionists, a princess of Thailand, and a former president of Mexico. They combined data from major organizations including the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Google Earth, with hundreds of country- and city-level surveys.

The report is another “my God” moment in Landrigan’s 47 years of plumbing pollution. His early 1970s studies on lead’s effects on children’s IQ...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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