No. 1 killer

Pollution kills more humans than anything else

In 2015, one thing took more lives worldwide than high-sodium diets, obesity, alcohol, vehicle accidents or malnutrition: environmental pollution. According to a just-released study in The Lancet medical journal, pollution of air and water killed 9 million people that year. That’s 16 percent of all deaths worldwide, three times the number of people killed by tuburculosis, AIDS and malaria combined, and 15 times the number of deaths attributed to all forms of violence, including war. Among the many eye-opening numbers in the report is the cost of pollution to the world’s economy. Estimated losses of $4.6 trillion diminish global economic output by 6.2 percent annually. If one takes into consideration the fact that pollution-mitigation measures—removing lead from gas, improving air quality—made by the United States since 1980 have actually returned an average $200 billion per year to the economy, then it’s clear that there are financial as well as health benefits to protecting the environment.