Study Says 13 Million Deaths a Year Could Be Prevented

A recent report out of Europe indicates that tackling air pollution, contaminated drinking water and other environmental risks could save 13 million lives annually around the globe. Released by the World Health Organization, the report shows that Angola, Burkina Faso, Mali and Afghanistan to be among the countries most affected by environmental risk factors including noise pollution, hazardous working conditions, problematic agricultural methods, and climate change. Interestingly, in 23 of the 192 countries on which the report focused more than 10 percent of deaths can be traced to just two factors, unsafe drinking water and indoor air pollution because from the burning of wood, cow dung or coal. And lest those of us in the first world come away with the impression that we’re immune to environmental problems, the report also highlights the fact that an estimated 1.8 million deaths could be prevented each year in the 53 nations spanning the greater European Union if more efforts were made to create a healthier environment in that part of the world as well.

The reports authors' hope is that it will lead to more discussion of ways to mitigate certain risk factors. As Susanne Weber-Mosdorf, the WHO's assistant director-general for sustainable development and healthy environments puts it, "We would be very glad if these country-by-country figures are used as the basis for a discussion on effective countermeasures." She goes on to point out that even simple water purification methods would help decrease the incidence of diseases such as diarrhea that affect large numbers of children; which would have far-reaching implications for large swaths of humanity as children under age 5 make up 74 percent of deaths due to diarrhea and respiratory infections combined. And another solution released as part of the report was that using gas or electricity for cooking rather than current fuels, improving ventilation, and keeping children away from smoke could reduce the number of deaths while having a major impact on respiratory infections and diseases among women and children. Clearly, simple things that can make a big difference, but useless unless implemented. Hopefully the report will stir as many to action as to words…
via:: International Herald Tribune

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