"This is because scientists are still discovering links between pollution and ill health, such as the connection between air pollution and dementia, diabetes and kidney disease", The Guardian says. This number was three times more than deaths from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined and 15 times more than from all wars and other forms of violence.
Several cities in India and China recorded average annual concentrations of particulate matter PM2·5 pollution of greater than 100 μg/m³, and more than 50% of global deaths due to ambient air pollution in 2015 occurred in India and China.
India recorded the most number of premature deaths because of pollution in 2015 at 2.51 million lives lost, followed by China at 1.8 million deaths, a recent study has revealed.
In the most severely affected countries, including India, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Madagascar, and Kenya, up to a quarter of all deaths were caused by pollution.
The report is the work of the Commission on Pollution and Health, an initiative of The Lancet, the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP), and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
The research, conducted by about 40 worldwide scientists, used data from the Global Burden of Disease study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, adds Reuters. The study said nearly all pollution-related deaths - around 92% - are in poor or middle-income countries.
This includes outdoor pollution from factory and auto emissions, and indoor pollution from wood, charcoal, coal, dung or crop waste being burnt for heating and cooking.
The biggest cause of pollution death was found to be chemicals in the air, both outside and within households. Unsafe water was linked to 1.8 million deaths.
Deaths from air pollution were a result of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
"Proportionally, low-income countries pay 8.3 per cent of their gross national income to pollution-related death and disease, while high-income countries pay 4.5 per cent", the researchers said.
"With globalization, mining and manufacturing shifted to poorer countries, where environmental regulations and enforcement can be lax", Reuters quotes Karti Sandilya, one of the authors and an adviser to environmental group Pure Earth.
"We will also end the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040, and next year we will publish a comprehensive Clean Air Strategy which will set out further steps to tackle air pollution".