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Disease Burden From Air Pollution Underestimated, U.N. Reports

“Air pollution is an underestimated scourge that kills far more people than AIDS and malaria and a shift to cleaner energy could easily halve the toll by 2030, U.N. officials said on Tuesday” at a conference in Oslo focusing on new development goals for the post-2015 development agenda, Reuters reports. “A 2012 World Health Organization (WHO) study found that 3.5 million people die early annually from indoor air pollution and 3.3 million from outdoor air pollution,” the news service notes, adding, “The data, published as part of a global review of causes of death in December 2012, were an upwards revision of previous figures of 1.9 million premature deaths caused by household pollution a year and 1.3 million outdoors, [Maria Neira, the WHO’s director of public health and environment,] said” (Doyle, 4/9). “Ground-level ozone pollution was estimated to cause an additional 200,000 premature deaths every year, the [U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP)] said in a press release,” the U.N. News Centre writes (4/8).

“By comparison, U.N. reports show there were about 1.7 million AIDS-related deaths in 2011 and malaria killed about 660,000 people in 2010,” according to Reuters. “Investments in solar, wind or hydropower would benefit both human health and a drive by almost 200 nations to slow climate change, blamed mainly on a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from use of fossil fuels, [officials at the conference] said,” the news service writes. “Almost 200 governments have agreed to work out by the end of 2015 a deal to combat climate change,” but “negotiations have stalled, partly because of economic slowdown and divisions between nations about how to share out the burden of cuts,” Reuters notes (4/9).