The War on Pollution

Post By: Molly Esselstrom, Upstream Research™ Marketing Manager

Today’s world and news are rife with tension and controversy. The struggle against the environment (and those who sanction it) is also not without its strife. A CNBC article from October of 2017, revealed research from a study that “in 2015, almost one in six deaths – an estimated 9 million globally – were found to relate to pollution in some form.” 9 million deaths globally, let that sink in.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, but no less sad, the research also revealed that 92% of these casualties were in poor or middle-income countries. As this is a global problem, it is important to look at some of the most polluted places in the world as both an example and a warning.


China’s self-proclaimed war on pollution is perhaps one of the most talked about areas for this global crisis. In a January 2017 piece, this war led to $63.6 million in fines and 720 arrests due to violations in environmental protection laws. China has made some progress in pollution reduction such as refusing 11 “high-pollution and high-energy consuming projects in 2016” and taking 4.05 million high emission vehicles off the road. These reductions shortly followed the ‘red alert’ on 32 Chinese cities showing that, despite progress, pollution is still a huge problem in China. Much of these problems have to do with rapid industry growth, “lack of green technologies” during this growth period, and geography in many cases. However, the county’s government has put together the 13th Five-Year Plan Period (2016-2020) for environmental improvement.


India, and specifically Delhi, is also a huge contributor to world pollution and faces similar problems to China. Delhi’s toxic air is often reported as some of the worst air in the world. An article from early 2017 said, “over 90 percent of the cities studied [in India] had pollution levels higher than the prescribed standards.” This study included 168 cities, with the problem mainly concentrated in North and Central India. Interestingly, South India “appeared to have comparably clean air” in this study, mainly due to its “mixing of sea breeze.”  Fossil fuels were found to be the biggest source of pollution and high levels of particulate matter in the country and, despite the South being relatively cleaner, pollution is considered a national issue to be addressed.


While not in the news quite as much for its pollution, Poland is considered the “China of Europe.” The Quartz piece reporting on this issue focused on Warsaw, Poland’s capitol, and its resident’s donning pollution masks. The norm of micrograms per cubic meter for pollution is 50 from EU standards, but Poland has recently reached 437. On a given day these levels are close to 176, comparable to China’s 196 and worse than London’s 71 (which is often in the news for its pollution crisis). One of the main reasons for these high levels is the fact that Poland is a coal-burning country. Even worse, “a staggering 33 out of the 50 most polluted cities in Europe are in Poland,” leading to citizen’s respiratory problems, rise is asthma and related heart issues.

The CNBC article quoted Phillip Landrigan, a professor at the Icahn School of Medicine, “It [pollution] deserves the full attention of international leaders, civil society, health professionals, and people around the world.”


9 million deaths globally.

Okay, now that it has sunk in, let’s do something about it. #MoveUpstream.


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