Cleaning crews working to remove oil from a beach off the summer resort town of Ancon, northern Lima, on January 22, 2022.

Pollution is a huge global killer. A new report estimates that pollution contributed to 9 million deaths in 2019. The authors complain that little has been done to mitigate the harm of these pollutants during that time.

Acute and chronic health risks can be caused by pollution, depending on the pollutant, duration, and route of exposure. Air pollution is known to increase the risk of asthma episodes, cardiovascular conditions, and lung cancer. These risks can be passed onto the next generation, since higher levels of exposure during pregnancy can increase the chances of premature birth.

The findings are an update to a report conducted by the commission. The report used data from the Global Burden of Disease study to estimate the number of people who died from pollution in 2015. The study estimates the pollution-related deaths in the year and tracks the mortality caused by different forms of pollution over the past 20 years.

There have been subtle shifts since 2000. Thanks to improvements in health care access, people are dying less from traditional types of pollution, such as unsafe water or household air pollution. The authors say that the decrease has been off-set by increases in deaths from industrial pollution, the kind that releases damaging aerosol particles widely into the outdoors. The number of deaths due to outdoor air pollution increased from 2000 to 2019.

More than 6 million people were killed by air pollution in 2019. 9 million deaths were attributed to pollution in the year, accounting for about one in six deaths. In low-to-middle income countries, over 90% of these deaths were felt.

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The health impacts of pollution remain enormous, and low- and middle-income countries bear the brunt of this burden. Pollution prevention is largely overlooked in the international development agenda despite its enormous health, social and economic impacts.

The authors point out that the harms caused by the preventable loss of life cause ripples everywhere. The economic cost of these deaths in the US was about 4% of the global economic output. Many sources contribute to higher greenhouse emissions and the worsening of climate change, so doing more about pollution would pay off elsewhere. Further threatening the extinction of many species is pollution. There hasn't been much of a fight to combat the issue so far.

Despite public concern about pollution and its health effects, attention and funding has not increased.

Increased funding for pollution control programs and the formation of an international panel of experts to regularly study and monitor the pollution problem are some of the recommendations laid out by the authors.