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VOA - Voice of America


This week, the World Health Organization released its first country-by-country look at environmental health risks. These include pollution, dangers in the workplace and ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

They also include risks like noise, unsafe agricultural methods, climate change and people's behavior. The report says making environmental conditions healthier could prevent thirteen million deaths each year. Research on close to two hundred countries found that the worst affected include Angola, Burkina Faso, Mali and Afghanistan.

The study found that two major environmental risks cause more than ten percent of the deaths in twenty-three countries. These risks are unsafe water and indoor air pollution from burning wood, coal or animal waste for fuel. Poor countries suffer the most from environmental health risks. They lose about twenty times more healthy years of life per person per year than wealthy countries, the W.H.O. says. But it says even countries with better environmental conditions could still reduce disease rates by almost one-sixth.

In some poor countries, environmental improvements could cut disease rates by more than a third. The main victims of environmentally related diseases are children under age five. For example, the report says they represent three-fourths of the deaths from diarrhea and lung infections. W.H.O. official Susanne Weber-Mosdorf says the study is a first step toward helping national decision-makers to set goals for preventive action. But the findings show there is a lot individuals could do to reduce death rates.

Among suggestions given are using cleaner fuels like gas or electricity as well as using better cooking devices. Improving air flow and keeping children away from smoke could also prevent many lung infections. And lives could be saved with household water treatment and safe storage.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I’m Steve Ember.

Source: VOA - Voice of America

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