The Industrial Revolution may seem like a thing of the past to residents of developed countries, but those who live in developing countries are still very much in the thick of it. Air pollution claimed 7 million lives in 2012, according to a report just released by the World Health Organization, with the vast majority of deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries.
One out of every eight premature deaths in 2012 was attributable to air pollution, the numbers reveal — a rate double that reported in previous years due to more accurate measures of pollution in both outdoor and indoor environments and in a broader range of rural areas.
The numbers also reveal that the link between air pollution and cardiovascular disease and cancer is even stronger than previously believed. A recent analysis of life expectancy in more and less polluted regions of China also suggested that air quality levies a high tax on health than documented in prior studies.
“The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes. Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution,” Maria Neira, director of the WHO’s Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, said in a news release.