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News > Science and Tech

Pollution To Cause Millions of 'Premature Deaths' By 2050

  • A Senegalese child plays with plastic waste at the coast of Ngor in Dakar, Senegal, Mar. 12, 2019.

    A Senegalese child plays with plastic waste at the coast of Ngor in Dakar, Senegal, Mar. 12, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 13 March 2019

The intensive accumulation of chemical waste on natural ecosystems is affecting human health across the world.

Pollution will cause millions of premature deaths by 2050 and the melting of the Arctic if new environmental protection policies are not fully implemented, scientists said during the 4th United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-4), which is being attended by representatives from more than 193 countries.

US Whites Produce More, Suffer Less Pollution Than Minorities

Before the international committee gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, the U.N. presented its 6th Global Environment Outlook (GEO-6), a comprehensive report aimed at helping policymakers achieve sustainable development goals.

The delegation of 250 scientists from more than 70 countries said current environmental pollution is the main cause of nearly seven million human deaths annually. Additionally, the increased use of chemical products will cause a greater resistance to antibiotics and become one of the world's leading causes of death even before 2050. 

“Various endocrine-disrupting chemicals are now widely distributed through the freshwater system on all continents,” the GEO-6 states and warned that they also have a “long-term impact on fetal underdevelopment and male infertility.”

Given that all these unwanted health conditions are related to global environmental changes, scientists argued that taking climate change mitigation actions would cost around US$22 trillion worldwide but would lead to about US$54 trillion in health costs. 

Experts also recommend investments in rural development plans to reduce migration to cities, where more than 70 percent of the world's population is expected to live by 2050.

At the presentation of the GEO-6 report, scientists also warned that a further temperature increase will "devastate" the Arctic and raise the oceans’ level, reason enough to act now, experts said.

"The idea is to underline the relations between the Arctic and its global connections and achieve solutions that can help other parts of the planet," said Bjorn Alfthan, spokesperson for the Norwegian foundation GRID-Arendal, said and explained that the ice melting could also increase oceans’ acidification.

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