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Air pollution costing global economy $5.1 trillion annually

Pakistan ranks 4th in air pollution states: WHO

Premature deaths due to air pollution cost the global economy $5.1 trillion annually, which is about twice the economic output of the United Kingdom, says a World Bank report. In a major study of the economic costs of indoor and outdoor pollution, the Bank said air pollution prematurely kills 5.5 million people a year, or one in ten deaths worldwide. The year 2015, especially, has been the worst-ever recorded for premature deaths by exposure to pollutants. On the other hand, in China, the number of deaths from high air pollution was 2,620 in 1990, which rose to 3,010 in the year 2000, and then to 3,100 in 2010.

According to a survey, air pollution significantly hampers the economic development of China and other growing economies in Asia. The Bank found that in 2013 (the latest year for which global data is available) China lost nearly ten percent of its GDP, India over seven percent, Sri Lanka and Cambodia roughly eight percent.

The World Bank also calculated that in 2013, premature deaths alone cost the global economy about $225 billion in lost work days. The estimates do not include the costs of treating illnesses linked to pollution.

Rich countries are also losing tens of billions of dollars a year through lost work days and welfare costs from premature deaths. Dirty air was found to cost UK $7.6 billion (£5.6 billion) a year, the United States $45 billion and Germany $18 billion.

The report also estimated that air pollution cost the world economy more than $5 trillion purchasing power parities (PPP) at 2011 prices in welfare losses and an additional $66 billion worth of manpower loss.

Drawing on World Health Organization data, the Bank said that air pollution now kills 5.5 million people a year prematurely, or one in 10 people worldwide. It is the fourth leading cause of premature deaths worldwide behind smoking, diet and obesity, and is known to lead to cancers and heart, lung and respiratory diseases. Air pollution is responsible for more than six times the number of deaths caused by malaria.

A recent report released by the WHO also stated that nine out of ten people are breathing in polluted air which resulted in the death of more than six million people globally and that it is a matter which needs to be taken seriously.

Air pollution continues to take a toll on the health of the most vulnerable populations. For people to be healthy, they must breathe clean air from their first breath to their last.

More than 1 million people died from dirty air in one year, according to World Health Organization.

Pakistan becomes the fourth country with the most air-pollution, states a report released by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The report ranked China on the number one spot for air pollution while India came in at second place with Pakistan coming in at the fourth spot.

Air pollution is one of the leading causes of death in Pakistan with the death toll reported to be 59,000 people every year. However, this is expected to get worse with the current industrialization, urbanization, and motorization unless targeted intervention is made.

Karachi has been named among the most polluted cities in the world, according to this month’s data graphic by Pete Guest as well as World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

Heavy smog loaded with pollutants has covered several urban and rural areas in eastern Pakistan, prompting breathing problems, and causing more than 20 deaths in traffic accidents caused by poor visibility on highways.

Several cities in Punjab province, including the provincial capital Lahore, have been engulfed in haze since earlier this week.

The smog has caused irritation in residents’ eyes and an increase in respiratory-related health problems.

China is the world’s deadliest country for outdoor air pollution, according to analysis by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The UN agency has previously warned that tiny particulates from cars, power plants and other sources are killing 3 million people worldwide each year.

For the first time the WHO has broken down that figure to a country-by-country level. It reveals that of the worst three nations, more than 1 million people died from dirty air in China in 2012, at least 600,000 in India and more than 140,000 in Russia.

At 25th out of 184 countries with data, the UK ranks worse than France, with 16,355 deaths in 2012 versus 10,954, but not as poorly as Germany at 26,160, which has more industry and 16 million more people. Australia had 94 deaths and 38,043 died in the US that year from particulate pollution.

Sixteen scientists from eight international institutions worked with WHO on the analysis, which gathered data from 3,000 locations, using pollution monitors on the ground, modeling and satellite readings. They looked at exposure to tiny particulates 2.5 microns in size, known as PM2.5s, which penetrate the lungs and are the air pollutant most strongly associated with an increased risk of death.

In the UK more than 90 percent of the population lives in areas with levels of PM2.5s above the WHO’s air-quality limits of 10 micrograms per cubic meter for the annual mean.

Globally, 92 percent of the population breathes air that breaches WHO limits but the world map of deaths caused by PM2.5s changes when looked at per capita. When ranked by the number of deaths for every 100,000 people, Ukraine jumps to the top of the list at 120. It is followed by eastern European and former Soviet states, and Russia itself, probably due to a legacy of heavy industry in the region. China drops down to 10th, at 76 per 100,000, and India falls to 27th, with 49 per 100,000.

Most of the air pollution comes from cars, coal-fired plants and waste burning but not all of it is created by humans. Dust storms in places close to deserts also contribute to dirty air, explaining partly why Iran is at 16th highest for total deaths, at 26,000 a year. Most of the total deaths worldwide, two out of three occur in south-east Asia and the western Pacific, which includes China, Vietnam, Japan, Australia, South Korea and small Pacific island states. The Pacific states of Brunei Darussalam, Fiji and Vanuatu have the lowest number of deaths from air pollution, the WHO found.

Canada and Scandinavian countries deserved praise for curbing air pollution France is taking a lot of action, Paris is taking aggressive measures.

With scores of residents reporting respiratory problems and irritated eyes, doctors are advising residents to try to stay indoors and wear facemasks outside.

Similar problems have been reported in the Indian capital of New Delhi, about 427 kilometers southwest of Lahore. The city is normally beset by chronic air pollution, but according to one advocacy group, government data shows that the smog currently enveloping New Delhi is the worst in the last 17 years.

Airborne pollution in Delhi rarely stays within safe levels, even during summer, when winds are stronger and dust and droplets disperse more easily in the hot air.

It is traditionally worst in the winter months, beginning with Diwali, when hundreds of thousands of fireworks are let off across the city. They leave a haze that usually lasts for two or three days, but has persisted for almost a week this year.

Hospitals in the city have reported increased admissions of people suffering respiratory diseases. Of which India has the highest rate in the world, with 159 deaths per 100,000 people in 2012.

Children are particularly vulnerable, a 2015 study finding about half the city’s 4.4 million schoolchildren had stunted lung development and would never completely recover.

More people died of air pollution in India than China last year, said a Greenpeace study.

Using data from the Global Burden of Diseases study, the report said the spike happened because of the lack of adequate measures by the government.

Outdoor air pollution killed 3,283 people in India in 2015, compared to 3,233 in China.

The study found a direct relation between the exposure to ambient outdoor air pollution (ozone and particulate matter with diameter less than 2.5 micrometers and 10 micrometers) and premature deaths.

The data shows that China’s strong measures in tackling pollution have resulted in a steady reduction in the particulate levels. With India, however, the trend is downward.

Due to growing consumption of fossil fuels, the pollution level in China was deteriorating. Between 2005 and 2011, the particulate pollution levels in China rose an estimated 20 percent. The year 2011 was the worst on record for China in terms of ambient air pollution.

However, there was a dramatic improvement in China towards 2015, while India’s pollution levels constantly moved upwards. China adopted strict emission standards for thermal power plants in 2011, and a coordinated action plan in 2013, which led to the reduction in pollution levels, eventually halting the increase in air pollution deaths.

Other environment experts also agreed that unless there is a comprehensive plan to tackle pollution, the levels will keep breaking records.

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