Diseases caused by pollution killed more than 9 million people in 2015, 16 percent of all deaths worldwide. It is three times more fatal than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined, and 15 times more than from wars and other violence. If these figures surprise you, it may be because your first thought is that pollution means dirty air. Or maybe you're thinking about contaminated water. In fact, pollution is both these things and much more, and only now is the first global effort to assess all kinds of it ultimately to calculate these gorgeous figures.
Between productivity loss and healthcare, pollution costs around $ 5 billion a year, more than 6 percent of global economic output. It's just from counting what is known. The majority of the more than 1
These are just a few teeth on the megalodon of a report called The Lancet Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, issued in October 2017. It marked the first global assessment of the "neglected training child that is pollution, "says Philip Landrigan, a pediatrician and epidemiologist who starred in the Commission. In response to this neglect, Lancets Lancet summarized a team of 52 that included economists, doctors, nutritionists, a princess in Thailand and a former president in Mexico. They combined data from large organizations, including the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Google Earth with hundreds of land and city surveys.
The report is another "my God" moment in Landrigan's 47-year plumbing pollution. His studies from the early 1970s on lead effects on the children's IQ brought the US government to ban leaded gasoline. His research on 9/11 first responders associated toxic dust inhalation with cancer. Not only did the report from Lancet find that pollution is "the greatest environmental cause of disease and death in the world today", it also stated that prevention of global pollution is a "winnable battle" and the torpedo-killed "old wives" narrative "(Landrigan's words) that makes it so bad in economies. (For example, the EPA has found that since 1970, every dollar spent on air pollution control in the United States has returned about $ 30 in services.) As the air, soil, and water pollution survey had previously been so thin, The report surprised many of us who have used our careers to study pollution, "Landrigan said." It was clear that our work was necessary to continue and expand. "
This extension is the Global Observatory on Pollution and Health led by Landrigan. A partnership between the United Nations Environment, Boston College and the Harvard TH Chan Public Health School, opened in September last year, will continue to gather Lancet s and other real-time pollution sources Recommend country-specific policies and conduct research around the world Its first two studies released later this year examine the impact of marine pollution on global health and human capital due to air pollution in India, at least 140 million people regularly breathe more than 10 times beyond the WHO's safe border. "Not coping with the pollution crisis will make it impossible for modern society to survive," says Landrigan. "It will make people sick. It will shorten people's lives. It will reduce children's intelligence so they can't properly contribute to society."
But why is a central pollution control command now only launched? First, defining pollution has only been a contaminated effort. From the Latin polluere ("to the ground polluter"), "pollution" for centuries was strictly associated with social or spiritual pollution. For example, the favorite between English definition was "semen emission in cases other than coitus." The smog, sludge and sludge of the industrial revolution inspired several scientific applications. But chemists, ecologists, and politicians with competing interests and limited tools struggled to analyze what they were trying to describe, and turned to woolly terms such as "foreign matter" with "adverse effects" or "foreign substances" which make "unnatural changes . "
In fact, the Cuyahoga River Fire, which helped ignite the environmental movement 50 years ago, was in fact at least the 13th time that pollutants had set the river aflame for 100 years. Before 1969, people lacked both the motivation to clean up and know what exactly was needed for cleaning, or why they should disturb. A report from the National Academy of Sciences of 1978 warned that "attaching an eco-label to a" pollutant "to a particular material requires considerable knowledge of its environmental impact; knowledge that there is mostly lacking."
Over the decades, our ability to measure pollution has evolved into blasted, Landrigan says. Satellite imaging allows researchers to "collect huge amounts of data in a matter of hours that would have taken months or years to rely solely on sampling." EPA's classification, first in 1997, of lingering, lightly inhaled PM2. 5-particulate material with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns, approx. 3 percent diameter of a human hair – has made contamination much more quantifiable. And biomonitoring technology can now measure hundreds of chemicals in the human body. Just over the last decade, Landrigan says, "We've learned that particulate air pollution not only causes lung disease, but also heart disease and stroke and chronic kidney disease and diabetes and possibly even dementia."
The observatory uses Lancet report's definition of pollution: an "undesirable, often dangerous material introduced into the Earth's environment due to human activity that threatens human health and which damages ecosystems. " Highlighted and qualified, but even the first word invites an intense political, social, economic and metaphysical debate.
Pollution issues are also in the shadows, says Landrigan, because "everything was aware of climate change." However, several recent efforts have increased the status of pollution on the global agenda with not only the Lancet report, but also the work of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and the World Health Organization's global conference on air pollution last year.
Although pollution and climate change are closely linked, the observatory will emphasize two differences to increase speed. The first distinction is how it portrays the murderous potential of pollution. While climate change will kill about 250,000 people a year between 2030 and 2050, "pollution kills millions of people here and now," Landrigan says. Air pollution alone, which now kills seven million a year, is on track to double the destruction by 2050. The other is in its approach to solutions. "Pollution is much easier to cope with than climate change," he adds. "Pollution can be set in 15 or 20 years in most countries around the world. In the US, we have seen a 70 percent reduction in pollution since the Clean Air Act … We know what to do and the tools we use Here, is ready to be used today throughout the world. "Global warming exacerbates pollution, but the observatory will first and foremost strategize pollution-specific policies.
These policies, which the Landrigan claims, include immediate measures such as mandating smokers stacks at all coal-fired plants. "The trump management goes away from the stack scrubs, and it's a huge mistake," Landrigan says. "It is not a political statement. It is a statement based on human health considerations." Long-term measures largely include getting rid of coal and "creating incentives to accelerate the transition to generating electricity from renewable energy."
Not everyone is so sanguine about the solubility of pollution and asks the observatory's optimism. "We are not going from petrol-driven vehicles to bicycles for the next 20 years," said Jonathan Samet, an epidemiologist at the Colorado School of Public Health. "And with everything from China to Iceland, you can't come up with a global standard that works for everyone."
"The observatory" is also a bit misleading. Its headquarters is not a Captain Planet -like dome of real-time pollution crises. For now, it is Landrigan's sparse office in an academic building in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, a stack of research papers and a whiteboard. And there are many things the observatory can't see. The report The Lancet created a concept called "pollution", the sum of all forms of pollution that "has the potential to harm human health."
The tip of polluting icebergs is what is known, pollutants have proven to require nine million lives a year. At the base, small investigated materials, thousands of synthetic chemicals that are widely used today ", which the CDC records in most people and which have never been tested for toxicity," says Landrigan.
Find out which materials at the bottom belong to the top can take years, steal countless lives along the way. "The biggest problem goes from what we are exposed to, what are the consequences for health?" Adds Samet. "I fear it is a bit like smoking. When we found out that smoking causes lung cancer, we had millions and millions of smokers. Fortunately, places like the observatory aim to avoid it."