Pollution causes some 40 percent of deaths worldwide, says new research

Here’s one small reason to join the save-the-environment cause: new research indicates that some 40 percent of deaths worldwide are a direct effect of air, water, and soil pollution. Dirty air contributes to cancer and birth defects; unclean water accounts for 80 percent of all infectious diseases; and contaminated soil passes toxics to unwitting humans through direct contact or via food. According to researchers’ review of data from more than 120 published papers, pollution combined with population growth contributes to malnourishment and disease susceptibility in 3.7 billion people, or about 57 percent of the world population. In 1950, when a mere 2.5 billion humans roamed the earth, only 20 percent of the population was malnourished. Says lead researcher David Pimentel, “We have serious environmental resource problems of water, land, and energy, and these are now coming to bear on food production, malnutrition, and the incidence of diseases.”