Friday, March 18, 2016

Environment behind 1/4th of global deaths

While the Flint crisis may be an egregious example of cruelty and neglect, the damaging consequences of a broken environment are all around us, a new tally by the World Health Organization shows. Nearly a quarter of all Nearly a quarter of all deaths worldwide are caused by environmental risks like polluted air, dirty water, hazardous workplaces and dangerous roads, according to the WHO report.

The global health authority estimates that 12.6 million deaths in 2012, or about 23% of the total, were attributable to such factors. The burden is greatest on the poor and the youngest. Mortality from environmental risks is highest in sub-Saharan Africa and low and middle-income countries in Asia.

The risks disproportionately affect children "because of their innate vulnerability," said Frederica Perera, director of Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health.

The WHO report-which doesn't count risks such as smoking and diet-focuses on environmental risks that are the product of the societal decisions that shape the world we live in. "Some of these are well known, such as unsafe drinking water and sanitation," the report says.

To get to those numbers, the WHO examined studies on risks for more than 100 types of diseases and injuries.