A new estimates released yesterday by the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggest that 12.6 million people died as a result of living or working in an unhealthy environment in 2012 – nearly one in four of total global deaths.
According to the second edition of the WHO report, “Preventing disease through healthy environments: a global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks,” 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. It reveals that since the report was first published a decade ago, deaths due to non-communicable 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.
The report reads: “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.
“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.” Read more