Pollution in rich countries kills 2 million people in poor countries, research
TOKYO (Reuters) – Pollution from food production for rich countries is estimated to be the leading cause of 2 million premature deaths in poor countries in 2010, Japanese scientists estimate.
The study was conducted on the G20 group of the world’s richest countries, which includes 19 countries as well as the European Union, an alliance of 27 European countries.
Not only are the G20 countries rich, but the standard of living of the average citizen is also much higher than that of the average and low-income countries, and the requirements for maintaining it are very high.
Kisuki Nansai of the National Institute for Environmental Research in Suokuba, Japan, and her colleagues discussed the use of PM2.5 and airborne pollutants in the manufacture of consumer products around the world. Collected data from around the world for just one year (2010).
It should be noted that the particles of air pollution that are 2.5 micrometers in size or less are called ‘PM2.5’ in environmental terms.
These particles can stay suspended in the air for long periods of time and can travel thousands of miles with the wind. As a result, they are extremely dangerous to the environment as well as human health.
It is estimated that PM2.5 pollution is the cause of 4 million deaths worldwide each year, with the majority of those dying being from poor countries.
In this study, which is actually a ‘modeling study’, the experts examined in detail the sources of PM2.5 pollution and the deaths (premature deaths) from this pollution in 199 countries.
They found that a country’s PM2.5 contamination could spread to neighboring countries and cause serious problems there as well. For example, large-scale air pollution in India every year causes severe problems in large areas of Pakistani Punjab.
The other side of the same problem is even more worrying: a large number of consumer goods in rich countries are manufactured in poor countries in order to keep production costs to a minimum.
These consumer goods improve the living standards of citizens in rich countries, but the pollution emitted from their manufacture makes health and environmental problems worse in poorer countries.
According to the report, published in the latest issue of the online research journal Nature Communications, it was “non-local air pollution” that caused 1.983 million premature deaths from pollution in 2010. Most of these deaths occurred in middle- and low-income countries.
Although the average age of deaths due to PM2.5 contamination was 65 years, experts estimate that this includes the deaths of 78,600 newborns and breastfed infants who lost their lives to contamination.
The scientists compiling the report called on the G20 countries to stop unnecessary consumption of food so that air pollution from their products would be the least common cause of death in poor countries.