1 in 4 of all deaths linked to poor environment

An estimated 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to unhealthy environments

Preventing disease through healthy environments: a global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks, WHO, MARCH 2016.

An estimated 12.6 million people died as a result of living or working in an unhealthy environment in 2012 – nearly 1 in 4 of total global deaths, according to new estimates from WHO. Environmental risk factors, such as air, water and soil pollution, chemical exposures, climate change, and ultraviolet radiation, contribute to more than 100 diseases and injuries.

An estimated 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to unhealthy environments, WHO, MARCH 2016.

Noncommunicable diseases contribute to largest share of environment-related deaths

The second edition of the report, “Preventing disease through healthy environments: a global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks”, reveals that since the report was first published a decade ago, deaths due to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), mostly attributable to air pollution (including exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke), amount to as much as 8.2 million of these deaths. NCDs, such as stroke, heart disease, cancers and chronic respiratory disease, now amount to nearly two-thirds of the total deaths caused by unhealthy environments.

25% of all deaths linked to pollution and environmental degradation, MNN, March 18, 2016.
Air pollution by Charles Haynes.

At the same time, deaths from infectious diseases, such as diarrhoea and malaria, often related to poor water, sanitation and waste management, have declined. Increases in access to safe water and sanitation have been key contributors to this decline, alongside better access to immunization, insecticide-treated mosquito nets and essential medicines.

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