Last week the World Health Organization came out with a study, published in The Lancet, that comes to the sobering conclusion that air pollution kills more people around the world every year than are killed by AIDS and malaria, combined. Where’s the outrage?
Looking at stats from 2010, the report found that 3.5 million deaths a year are caused by indoor air pollution, with 3.3 million dead from outdoor air pollution. The total amount is less than the sum of the two figures, the report notes, as there are probably half a million deaths that have been caused by a combination of both factors.
No matter the exact total, better measurements mean we have a significant increase from previous figures for air pollution deaths, which last tallied 3.2 million deaths from air pollution from both sources combined.
For comparison, WHO stats for 2010 show that malaria caused an estimated 655,000 deaths, out of roughly 220 million people getting the illness; AIDS took the lives of an estimated 1.8 million people in the same year.
In other words, just indoor air pollution mostly caused by wood fires and stoves or outdoor air pollution alone, each cause more deaths each year than two of the world’s most high profile, and most combated, diseases.