How much disease and death around the world could be prevented through healthier environments? Well the answer is quite a lot, according to an important new global study by the World Health Organization. The study found that approximately 1/4 of all premature deaths around the world, and more than 1/3 of those among children, were attributable to various environmental factors. Most significant among these were diarrhea caused by unsafe drinking water and sanitation, and lower respiratory infections caused by the indoor burning of solid fuels like wood and dung. But in some respects, this report also offers encouragement, since most of these deaths could be prevented through poverty alleviation.

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