• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Environment behind 1/4 of deaths globally: WHO
WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan. Photo: AFP

Environment behind 1/4 of deaths globally: WHO

AFP · 15 Mar 2016, 09:03

Published: 15 Mar 2016 09:03 GMT+01:00

An estimated 12.6 million people died in 2012 as a result of living and working in unhealthy environments, 23 percent of all deaths reported globally, according to the new study.

"If countries do not take actions to make environments where people live and work healthy, millions will continue to become ill and die too young," warned WHO chief Margaret Chan in a statement.

The report defines environmental causes broadly, drawing links between a long line of environmental risk factors like pollution,  chemical exposure, climate change and ultraviolet radiation, as well as access to firearms and more than 100 diseases and injuries.

As many as 8.2 million of the deaths could be blamed on air pollution, including exposure to second-hand smoke, which is responsible for heart disease, cancers and chronic respiratory disease, the report said.

Among the deaths attributed to environmental factors were 1.7 million caused by "unintentional injuries", including road accidents.

The report also counted 846,000 diarrhoeal disease deaths among environmental mortalities, adding that many were linked to pollution and unsafe drinking water.

Road accidents, suicides

Story continues below…

The WHO reported 246,000 deaths due to intentional injuries, including suicides, which it linked to the unsafe storage and access to firearms, as well as to pesticides - used in a full third of the world's suicides - among other factors.

The report found that most environmentally-linked deaths happened in Southeast Asia, which accounted for 3.8 million such deaths in 2012, followed by the Western Pacific region with 3.5 million.

The least affected region was the Americas, with 847,000 deaths blamed on environmental conditions.

Europe had 1.4 million environmentally-linked deaths while Africa reported 2.2 million. The WHO said that better environmental management could prevent the deaths of 1.7 million children under five, who are especially prone to serious illnesses arising from respiratory infections and diarrhoea.

"There's an urgent need for investment in strategies to reduce environmental risks in our cities, homes and workplaces," said Maria Neira, WHO's public health chief.

"Such investments can significantly reduce the rising worldwide burden of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, injuries and cancers, and lead to immediate savings in healthcare costs," she said.

The report is the second of its kind and follows an initial WHO study a decade ago.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Foreigners in Switzerland surpass 2 million mark
International flags outside the UN in Geneva. Photo: Martial Trezzini/AFP

For the first time, there are now more than two million foreigners living in Switzerland.

Geneva runs out of permits for non-EU workers
File photo: The Local

Canton complains to the federal government after it reduced the number of permits available to third state workers.

Scorchio! Late August heat breaks record in Geneva
Lake Geneva on Thursday. Photo: The Local

The mercury in Geneva hit 33.3 degrees, a record for the final week in August.

US and Russia meet in Geneva for Syria talks
John Kerry with UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Geneva on Thursday for a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Expert predicts major quake for Switzerland by 2040
A fireman stands in the Italian village of Amatrice, which was badly hit by this week's earthquake. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The canton of Valais is particularly at risk.

Aggressive deer put down after attacking four in Geneva
File photo: Michal Kosacky

The buck attacked four people in the same area over the course of 48 hours.

Navigation error ends badly for Basel driver

A man accidentally drove his car down a flight of steps after his passenger directed him the wrong way.

Blatter 'confident' as he faces Swiss sports court
Sepp Blatter. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Former Fifa boss Sepp Blatter is back in court on Thursday as he seeks to overturn a six-year ban from football.

Federer teams up with Nadal for new tennis tournament
Federer and Nadal at the Laver Cup launch with Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. Photo: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images North America/AFP

The duo will play doubles together in a new competition pitting Europe against the rest of the world in a tennis team event.

Geneva advises teachers on religion in school
File photo: C Carlstead

The secular canton of Geneva has issued guidelines for teachers on how to deal with religious issues in the classroom.

Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Photo: Starship
Technology
Swiss Post trials robot parcel deliveries in Bern
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Photo: AFP
Politics
Survey: Swiss optimistic about Brexit effect
Photo: Neil Heritage/Endeavour Fund
Features
Amputee's Matterhorn trek 'makes it more possible' for others
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Photo: EPFL
International
Switzerland tops global innovation table – again
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Photo: Vasily Cotovanu
National
Asylum centre plans shelved after Swiss village protests
Photo: The Local
Politics
Neuchâtel looks to boost rights for foreigners
Photo: AFP
Sport
In pictures: final day success takes Swiss to seven medals
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Photo: AFP
National
Experts debate rail security following Swiss train attack
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
File photo: AFP
Sport
Two basejumpers die in Lauterbrunnen accidents
Photo: AFP
International
Amnesty fears for child migrants at Italian border
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Photo: AXA Winterthur
National
Report: Geneva is Swiss capital of car theft
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP
National
Top tips for watching the meteor shower in Switzerland
File photo: Andrew Turner
Technology
Swiss start-up to offer drone service to farmers
Photo: Beat Strasser
National
British quadruple amputee summits Matterhorn
Photo: Judit Klein
National
Switzerland sees rise in child victims of forced marriage
Photo: Michael Schlick/OS Muhr
National
Swiss hiker in Austria rescued after sending SOS to America
Photo: Chris Murphy
Features
14 mistakes foreigners make on moving to Switzerland
Photo: AFP
Lifestyle
Swiss resort unveils huge ‘natural’ fresco on mountain
Photo: C Sonderegger/Swiss Tourism
National
Five great Swiss traditions all expats should try
Photo: AFP
National
Confirmed cases of Zika virus soar in Switzerland
Photo: eGuide Travel
National
Prison for woman who faked Swiss airport bomb threat
Photo: AFP
Technology
Swiss solar plane completes epic round-the-world trip
4,633
jobs available