Worldwide, air pollution now kills more people each year than AIDS and Malaria combined, the director general of the U.N. Industrial Development Organization announced in April. Director general Dr. Kandeh K Yumkella, called for greater investments in clean energy and a bigger push for energy efficiency, moves that could dramatically reduce the toll.
3.5 million deaths are attributable to indoor air pollution. That not only outnumbers the 3.3 million due to outdoor air pollution, but is almost twice the previously calculated figure of 1.9 million. The revised data stems from a 2012 World Health Organization study. Pneumonia, heart disease, and cancer are among the deadly conditions that can be triggered by harmful particles in the outdoor and indoor air.
At more than 6 million, the total annual death toll from air pollution far exceeds the 1.7 million AIDS-related deaths in 2011 and the 660,000 deaths from malaria recorded in 2010.
Dr Yumkella’s remarks came at an Oslo conference created to help work out new U.N. development goals for 2030. At the meeting, U.N. officials said that a shift to cleaner energy and greater energy efficiency could easily cut yearly pollution-related deaths in half by 2030.
Investments in solar, wind, and hydroelectric power would benefit health while helping to slow climate change, the officials said. Meanwhile, products that use less energy would mean lower fossil fuel emissions — reducing both outdoor and indoor air pollution (a leading cause of indoor air pollution are particles that enter from the outside environment).