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Brunei Darussalam and Sweden have the lowest numbers of pollution-related deaths, according to a report by Lancet Commission on pollution and health.
The report published in The Lancet medical journal recently suggested that a total of nine million deaths in 2015 (roughly one in every six) were linked to pollution. Most were found to have died of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The report marks the first attempt to examine the cumulative impact of all forms of pollution on death and disease.
Air pollution was found to be the largest contributor to early death by far, accounting for 6.5 million fatalities in 2015. Water pollution, responsible for 1.8 million deaths, and workplace-related pollution (0.8 million) are also ranked among the most significant risks.
The five countries that topped the Lancet ranking are Brunei Darussalam, Sweden, Finland, Barbados and New Zealand, the report said, noting that that 2.7 per cent of deaths in the Sultanate were estimated to be linked to pollution, compared to 3.8 per cent in Sweden, 4.5 per cent in Finland, 4.9 per cent in Barbados and five per cent in New Zealand.
For decades, pollution and its harmful effects on people’s health, the environment and the planet have been neglected both by governments and the international development agenda. Yet, pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and death in the world today, responsible for an estimated nine million premature deaths, the report said.
The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health has addressed the full health and economic costs of air, water and soil pollution. Through analysis of existing and emerging data, the commission has revealed pollution’s severe and underreported contribution to the Global Burden of Disease.
The commission has also uncovered the economic costs of pollution to low-income and middle-income countries.
It will inform key decision makers around the world about the burden that pollution places on health and economic development, and about available cost-effective pollution control solutions and strategies.
According to the report, pollution — as a result of outdoor and indoor air pollution, water and soil contamination and chemical pollutants — is one of the largest risk factors for premature death. With almost all of these deaths (92 per cent) occurring in low- and middle-income countries, and pollution disproportionately affecting the poor and marginalized in every country worldwide, the authors of the report aimed to end neglect of the issue across the political spectrum and mobilize the will, resources, and the leadership needed to confront it.
The Lancet Commission on pollution and health was a two-year project that involved more than 40 international health and environmental authors. Using data from the Global Burden of Disease study, it brought together comprehensive estimates on the effects of pollution on health, provides economic costs, and reveals the extent of contaminated sites across the world for the first time.
“Pollution is much more than an environmental challenge – it is a profound and pervasive threat that affects many aspects of human health and wellbeing. It deserves the full attention of international leaders, civil society, health professionals, and people around the world,” said the commission’s co-lead, Professor Philip Landrigan, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, USA.
“Despite its far-reaching effects on health, the economy and the environment, pollution has been neglected in the international assistance and the global health agendas, and some control strategies have been deeply underfunded. Our goal is to raise global awareness of the importance of pollution, and mobilize the political will needed to tackle it, by providing the most in-depth estimates of pollution and health available.”
Brunei Darussalam has the third cleanest air in world with lower concentration of “fine particular matter (PM) in urban areas” in its air, according to the Global Health Observatory 2017 report released by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Brunei, rated by many international agencies as one of the most livable places in the world, has done a good job of keeping emissions low and maintaining forests, even with rapid industrialization.
Last year, a report released by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) also gave a clean certificate to the air quality of the Sultanate.
Brunei has a pollution level which is well below the WHO’s ceiling for acceptable outdoor air quality compared to other countries in the region where urban pollution levels are very high, partly due to the high level of car ownership in the region’s major cities, EIU said in its report on Asean cities titled “Stirring the Melting Pot.