Pollution kills

40 percent of all deaths worldwide are caused by pollutants and deficiencies

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40 percent of all deaths worldwide are directly or indirectly accounted for by environmental pollution, researchers report in a new study. Contaminated water, degraded soil and contaminated air, among other things, contribute to diseases spreading rapidly. Together with poverty and malnutrition, more than 3.7 billion people are affected, especially in regions with unregulated population growth.


David Pimentel, professor of ecology and agriculture at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, together with colleagues, analyzed the results of more than 120 studies that looked at the impact of population growth, malnutrition, and various diseases Types of environmental destruction to deal with the spread of diseases.

"We are having serious problems with our environmental resources, such as water, land and energy, and this is now beginning to affect food production, ultimately leading to malnutrition and disease, " explains Pimentel. "A growing number of people are missing basic things like clean water or enough food. It makes them more vulnerable to diseases caused by malnutrition and pollutants in the air, water or soil. "

Of the approximately 6.5 billion people on earth, 57 percent are now considered malnourished - in 1950, it was only 20 percent. The growing shortage is not only the direct cause of the death of around six million children every year, but also increases susceptibility to diseases such as respiratory infections, malaria and a host of other life-threatening infections. display

Contaminated water

Among other things, the analysis showed that with 1.2 billion people without access to safe drinking water, around 80 percent of infectious diseases are caused by contaminated, pathogen-contaminated water. At the same time, stagnant polluted water is an ideal breeding ground for malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. Every year 1.2 to 2.7 million people die from the infectious disease, which is particularly widespread in the tropics. This is reinforced today by climate change, which allows insects that carry diseases to penetrate more and more into previously unsuitable areas.

According to Pimentels data, air pollution is also responsible for more than three million deaths. In the US alone, around three million tonnes of toxic chemicals are released into the atmosphere every year - contributing to cancer, immune deficiencies and many other serious health problems. Pollutants and pathogens from the stupid in turn reach the food chain or direct contact with humans. According to the scientist, whose study has now appeared in the journal "Human Ecology", the world could not afford to watch this development passively.

(Cornell University, 15.08.2007 - NPO)