Camfil UK: 21/03/2016 – The World Health Organisation (WHO) have estimated that 12.6 million people died as a result of living or working in an unhealthy environment in 2012 – nearly 1 in 4 of total global deaths, according to new estimates. Air pollution amounts to as much as 8.2 million of these deaths.
The Report, “Preventing disease through healthy environments: a global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks”, reveals that deaths due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), mostly attributable to air pollution (including exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke), amount to 8.2 million of these deaths. NCDs, such as stroke, heart disease, cancers and chronic respiratory disease, now amount to nearly two-thirds of the total deaths caused by unhealthy environments.
Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General said:
“A healthy environment underpins a healthy population,” says “If countries do not take actions to make environments where people live and work healthy, millions will continue to become ill and die too young.”
Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health said:
“There’s an urgent need for investment in strategies to reduce environmental risks in our cities, homes and workplaces”, said. “Such investments can significantly reduce the rising worldwide burden of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, injuries, and cancers, and lead to immediate savings in healthcare costs.”
Environmental risks take their greatest toll on young children and older people, the report finds, with children under 5 and adults aged 50 to 75 years most impacted. Yearly, the deaths of 1.7 million children under 5 and 4.9 million adults aged 50 to 75 could be prevented through better environmental management. Improving urban transit and urban planning, and building energy-efficient housing would reduce air pollution-related diseases and promote safe physical activity.
Currently, WHO is working with countries to take action on both indoor and outdoor air pollution. At the World Health Assembly in May, WHO will propose a road map for an enhanced global response by the health sector aimed at reducing the adverse health effects of air pollution.
The WHO Report comes just weeks after the landmark report from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) which starkly set out the dangerous impact air pollution is currently having on our nation’s health – with around 40,000 deaths a year linked to air pollution.
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