DEATHS caused by air pollution cost the Philippine economy $2.8 billion in foregone labor output in 2013, according to a study released on Thursday by the World Bank Group and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
The unrealized labor productivity translates to 0.45 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to the study “The Cost of Air Pollution: Strengthening the economic case for action.”
The amount compares with $2.2 billion in 1990.
The total number of air pollution-related deaths rose to 57,403 from 38,676 in the 23 years to 2013.
On a global scale, the report noted an estimated 5.5 million lives lost in 2013 to diseases associated with outdoor and household air pollution, causing human suffering and reducing economic development.
The result was about $225 billion in lost labor income in 2013.
The annual labor income lost from pre-mature deaths by air pollution in Southeast Asia accounted for 0.83 percent the region’s GDP in the same year.
“Air pollution is a challenge that threatens basic human welfare, damages natural and physical capital, and constrains economic growth,” World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Lara Tuck said in a statement.
“We hope this study will translate the cost of premature deaths into an economic language that resonates with policy makers so that more resources will be devoted to improving air quality,” he said.
The report noted 90 percent of the population in low and middle income countries is exposed to dangerous levels of ambient air pollution.
“By supporting healthier cities and investments in cleaner sources of energy, we can reduce dangerous emissions, slow climate change, and most importantly save lives,” Tuck said.
IHME Director Chris Murray expressed the urgency of the global air pollution issue.
“This report and the burden of disease associated with air pollution are an urgent call to action,” Murray said.
“Of all the different risk factors for premature deaths, this is one area, the air we breathe, over which individuals have little control.
“Policy makers in health and environment agencies, as well as leaders in various industries, are facing growing demands—and expectations—to address this problem,” he added.