One in Six Deaths Linked to Pollution Worldwide

Updated on July 4, 2022

In 2019, approximately one in every six deaths worldwide was related to pollution. This was according to estimates that came out in The Lancet Commission on pollution and health’s The Lancet Planetary Health. Initiated by a team of international scientists, the analysis indicated that there was a total of around nine million deaths across the world in the year before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With these numbers, pollution has officially become the world’s largest environmental risk factor for many diseases. It can even lead to premature death, so its impact is now more devastating than that of HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, alcohol, and drugs.  

Although there have been significant improvements in water pollution over the years, the increase in chemical and air pollution has not changed the death rate since 2015. Of the reported deaths, over 70% can be attributed to toxic air alone. 

Dirty air has become more and more like smoking – it damages the lungs and robs you of the oxygen that you need to survive. 

Although governments and other authorities have come up with several programs aimed at addressing the problem of air pollution, such as London’s ULEZ (ultra-low emission zones) and CAZs (Clean Air Zones) and the Clean Air Act, a lot of work still needs to be done. Air pollution has become a major global problem that needs viable global solutions. 

With the analysis report, scientists are hoping that authorities and governments will pick up the message and start political action. Some actions that can help improve the air pollution problem include:

  • Stronger pollution control partnerships
  • Standardised monitoring of air pollution levels
  • More budget for air pollution research
  • Focus on renewable energy sources
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Focus on air pollution in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Communities and governments must work together in advocating and addressing the issue of air pollution.


There are different kinds of pollutants in the air and some of the most dangerous ones are ozone and particulate matter. These pollutants are responsible for millions of deaths a year. 

Vehicles are also contributors of pollutants. While diesel was believed to be clean and safe, all these changed when the Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal broke in 2015. The scam initially involved German carmaker Volkswagen as they were discovered by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Resources Board to have used illegal defeat devices in diesel vehicles that they sold in the country.

Defeat devices are illegal because they are designed to manipulate emissions testing. They can detect when a vehicle is being tested and, once they do, they automatically lower emissions so the amount of toxic gases being expelled stays within the legal limits set by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

When the vehicle is brought out of the lab and into the streets, however, it reverts to its default settings, emitting large amounts of toxic gases. The volume of pollutants expelled by such a vehicle far exceeds the European Union and WHO limits. Essentially, VW deceived the public and lied to their customers by selling the vehicles as clean and safe when these were actually pollutants.

Other car manufacturers were eventually implicated in the diesel emissions scandal, including another German carmaker, Mercedes-Benz. Despite all the allegations against them, however, Mercedes and its parent company Daimler continue to deny the accusations. 

Pollutants from diesel vehicles

The pollutant that vehicles affected by the diesel emissions scandal emit is known as NOx or nitrogen oxide. 

NOx is a gas composed primarily of nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). It is considered one of the most dangerous pollutants with devastating impacts on the environment and human health. 

Nitrogen oxide significantly contributes to the formation of acid rain, smog, and ground-level ozone. Bad ozone can affect human health. It also affects vegetation; plants that are exposed to NOx stop growing.

Anyone exposed to nitrogen oxide can develop health issues, such as inflammation of the airways, breathing problems, asthma or aggravated asthma, loss of appetite, headaches and other respiratory issues. If a person with existing heart or lung conditions is exposed to NOx, their symptoms can worsen. 

Constant and excessive exposure to nitrogen oxide can lead to serious health complications, including increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronically reduced lung function, and premature death.  

NOx may also trigger mental health issues, specifically depression and anxiety.

Governments, campaigners, and law firms have been working hard to bring the erring car manufacturers to justice. VW and Mercedes have spent millions on fines, compensations, and class-action lawsuits or group litigation cases. They’ve also had to recall thousands upon thousands of affected vehicles so these can be fitted with safer and cleaner engines. 

Authorities are also encouraging affected car owners to file a diesel emissions claim against their manufacturer. They deserve to be compensated for the financial and environmental burden that the carmakers dumped on them.

Work with a panel of emissions solicitors

How can I start filing my diesel claim?

An emissions claim may be something new to you, so you may feel intimidated at the thought of filing a compensation case against a popular carmaker. This is why you’ll need to work with a panel of emissions solicitors who are regulated, well-trained, and highly experienced. They know what to do to help you win your case. Get in touch with now and increase your chances of winning your claim.

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