The deadly truth about pollution and disease

Here’s a pop health quiz…

What kills more people each year, war or air pollution?

How many people die of air pollution every year?

According to a newly released report by the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, it’s been estimated that, in 2015, diseases caused by various forms of pollution were responsible for about 9 million premature deaths.

In 2014, wars around the world accounted for 180,000 deaths.

Surprised? Here are a few more shocking statistics from the Commission’s report, spelling out the tragic toll being taken on our health by air, water, soil, and occupational pollution:

  • Pollution causes 16% of deaths around the world…
  • That’s three times more deaths than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined…
  • 15 times more deaths than all wars and other forms of violence…
  • And more deaths than smoking, hunger and natural disasters.

How is it killing us? For starters, with disease…

You may have read that you can have a pollution-triggered heart attack… or that you are likely breathing Alzheimer’s-causing pollutants right now.  Well, now you can add kidney disease to the list…

Fine particulate matter, the kind that can trigger a heart attack, has been found to contribute to 10.7 million cases of chronic kidney disease per year!

As we devote countless amounts of time, talent and dollars to solving the scourges of cancer and other diseases, doesn’t it make sense to give as much if not more attention to a highly preventable problem that is the cause behind so many of the very diseases we’re trying to cure?

One would think so. Unfortunately, not everyone is convinced. Just look at the resistance to the idea of global warming and climate change, and you’ll get an idea of what’s holding us back.

Unfortunately, we as individuals have limited control over this, other than to make changes in our daily lives by doing things ourselves to produce less pollution — like walking or biking or carpooling, for example.

In the meantime, we need ways to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the deadly consequences of pollution in all forms.

Toward that end, here are some of the ways you can reduce your exposure…

Air pollution

  • Check your area’s Air Quality Index (AQI) at, the website of the Environmental Protection Agency, before venturing outside. No longer is air quality a concern just for people with asthma or other cardiac or pulmonary conditions.
  • Exercise early: ozone levels are generally lower in the morning. If you exercise outdoors, do it in the morning.
  • Avoid heavy traffic whenever possible. Car emissions are the main source of air pollution. If you are sitting in traffic, close the windows and set the fan on ‘re-circulate’ to avoid drawing polluted air into your car. And if walking on a hilly street, choose the downhill side, where cars are not straining and spewing as many fumes.
  • Replace harsh cleaning chemicals with natural alternatives. Many cleansers emit deadly chemicals into your home’s air. Instead use safer, natural options, like these.
  • Make sure your gas stove is well ventilated to the outside. You’ll avoid exposure to nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde.
  • Use an indoor HEPA air filter. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate arresting. They are the only ones that efficiently gather pollutants, rather than spreading them. Also use a HEPA vacuum cleaner, and get your heating, ventilation and air conditioning checked regularly.

Water pollution

  • Use cold water for drinking and cooking. Cold water is less likely to have lead in it, since lead from old pipes dissolves in warm water.
  • If you use well water, consider testing for pesticides, organic chemicals, and heavy metals. Private water supplies should be tested annually for nitrate and for coliform bacteria. If you have doubts about the safety of your drinking water, no matter the source, put some in a clear, clean glass, and let it settle. Look for particles swirling in it. Also, see if it smells funny.
  • Be aware of activities in your watershed area that might affect the quality of your well water. For example, gas drilling activity in the area may result in chloride, sodium, barium, and strontium in your drinking water.
  • Never re-boil water. Boiling is a great way to decontaminate, but re-boiling concentrates any potentially harmful chemicals in the water
  • Don’t use harsh chemicals in your yard that can leach into your drinking water

Detox regularly

Because we are exposed to so many pollutants, it’s a good idea to frequently detox your body. You can find important ways to incorporate detoxing into your daily lifestyle in Dr. Michael Cutler’s eBook “Doctors’ Inside Secrets for Natural Cleansing and Detoxification.” (Click here to get a copy FREE today!)

In addition to specific kinds of cleanses detailed in his eBook, Dr. Cutler explains that a good way to cleanse yourself of toxins is to submerge yourself in a warm-to-hot Epsom salt bath, and soak for at least half an hour.

To do so, add ½ cup of baking soda under running water. When the tub is almost as full as you’d like it, add about 2 cups of Epsom salts. Then, just step in, relax and soak — this is not the time for soaping and lathering, because unless you are careful with your personal care products, you could invite more toxins into your life.


  1. Pollution responsible for 16 percent of early deaths globally — Simon Fraser University
  2. WHO: air pollution responsible for 1 in 8 global deaths — Medical News Today
  3. Air pollution causes millions of cases of kidney disease each year — American Society of Nephrology (ASN)
  4. How to Reduce the Effects of Pollution — Sciencing
  5. Air Pollution: 6 Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Health — U.S. News & World Report
  6. What can individuals do to reduce personal health risks from air pollution? — Journal of Thoracic Disease
  7. How to protect yourself from water pollution — Office on Women’s Health | U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  8. Protect Your Home’s Water — United States Environmental Protection Agency
  9. Global armed conflicts becoming more deadly, major study finds — The Guardian
  10. Commission on Pollution — Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP)
  11. 17 Simple Ways to Prevent Air Pollution in Your Home — Cleveland Clinic
  12. Five ways to avoid breathing polluted air — The BBC
  13. Cold or warm water safest? — Ask MetaFilter
  14. 12 Ways To Avoid Drinking Water Contamination (Safety Measures) —
  15. Warning: Don’t Reboil Water Ever Again! —
Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.