Lancet Commission Releases Major Report On Pollution
“Neglected” And “Underestimated”
The Lancet has been at the center of major public
health initiatives made public in October. In addition to the first
Climate Change Countdown report (see related story in this issue), a
Lancet Commission working with the Global Alliance on Health and
Pollution has released a comprehensive review of the environmental
pollution problem and called for greater recognition of the toll which
“It is time to put pollution on the map”, and “we bring
pollution out of the shadows”, declare Mount Sinai epidemiologist
Philip Landrigan and Pure Earth’s Richard Fuller in their
introduction to the Commission’s report which has been two years in
They add “For too long, pollution has been sidelined,
overshadowed, ignored by the world, in part because it is a
complicated topic with many causes, and as many outcomes. Often it
kills slowly, and indirectly, hiding its tracks.”
Commission report highlights these key facts and conclusions about
pollution from 2015 data:
the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death in the
caused 9 million premature deaths in 2015, 16% of all deaths
worldwide. This translates to an astonishing ~25,000 deaths per day!
It caused three times
more deaths than from AIDS, TB, and malaria combined.
caused fifteen times more deaths than from all wars and other forms of
92% of pollution related deaths occur in low-income and middle-income
prevalent among minorities and the marginalized at every income level
are at high risk of pollution-related disease
pollution and climate change are closely linked and share common
due to pollution are estimated at $4.6 trillion per year, which is
6.2% of the global economic output
claim that pollution control stifles economic growth and that poor
countries must pollute is false
news is that much pollution can be eliminated and pollution prevention
can be highly cost-effective.
The aim of the The Lancet Commission is to raise awareness about
pollution, end the neglect of pollution-related disease, and mobilize
the resources and political will needed to combat pollution
effectively, according to the report.
The Commission’s report identifies six recommendations.
Elevate Pollution As A National And International Priority, And
Integrate It Into Country And City Planning Processes.
Pollution can no
longer be viewed solely as an environmental issue. It now affects the
health and well-being of entire societies.
Increase Funding For Pollution Control And
Prioritize By Health Impacts
The level of funding
for pollution control in low- and middle-income countries is meager
and should be substantially increased, both within national budgets
and among international development agencies.
Establish Systems To Monitor Pollution And
Its Health Effects.
Data collected at the
local and national levels are essential for measuring pollution
levels, identifying and apportioning pollution sources, evaluating
interventions, guiding enforcement, informing civil society and the
public, and assessing progress toward goals.
Build Multi-Sectoral Partnerships For Pollution
partnerships and public-private collaborations can prove to be
effective tools in the development of clean energy sources and clean
technologies that ultimately will prevent pollution at the source.
Integrate Pollution Mitigation Into Planning
Processes For Non-Communicable Diseases.
pollution need to be a core component of the Global Action Plan for
the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases.
Conduct Research Into Pollution’s Impacts And Pollution Control.
Research is needed to
understand and control pollution and to support change in pollution
policy. Pollution-related research (research of the “pollutome”)
emerging causal links between pollutants, diseases, and subclinical
impairment, for example between ambient air pollution and dysfunction
of the central nervous system in children and in the elderly;
the burden of disease associated with known toxic chemicals such as
lead, mercury, chromium, arsenic, asbestos, and benzene.
Characterize the health impacts from newer chemical pollutants such as
developmental neurotoxicants, endocrine disruptors, novel
insecticides, chemical herbicides, and pharmaceutical wastes;
and map pollution exposures in low- and middle-income countries;
estimates of the economic costs of pollution and pollution; and
estimates of the cost of inaction and returns from interventions.
In an effort to be practical, the Commission Report lays out a 12 step
action plan for local areas to address the various kinds of pollution,
including outdoor air, household air, water, and soil pollution and
pollution in the workplace.
To view the full Commission report, visit: