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60-Second Earth

Poisoned Poor Killed in Millions by Pollution

The Global Alliance on Health and Pollution calls for a war against pollution to save the lives of more than eight million people annually. David Biello reports

 

What kills more people than HIV, malaria and tuberculosis every year? Air pollution. Tack on fouled water and poisoning by toxic waste and pollution killed 8.4 million people in 2012—or nearly three times as many people as those three diseases. Combined.
 
That's according to a new analysis by the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution based on data collected by the World Health Organization.
 
The problem is people breathing in the fumes of cooking fires in smoky homes or the soot from coal-fired power plants outside. Or there's the suffering caused by raw sewage in the water supply or poisonous heavy metals that get into the soil via industrial waste.
 
That's why the Alliance is calling for a global battle to help the poisoned poor via the Sustainable Development Goals currently being formulated by the United Nations. The proposed goal would be to at minimum cut such pollution-related deaths to less than three million people per year by 2030.  
 
The tools and technologies to cope with such pollution already exist and have been used for years to clean up the air and water in the richest countries, like the U.S. So maybe it's time to transfer that technology where it can save even more lives.
 
—David Biello
 
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]
 

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