Pollution is killing more people than AIDS, malaria and TB combined

We’ve always known pollution was bad, but a new study says that pollution actually causes more deaths than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.

Published in the medical journal, The Lancet, nine million deaths were caused as the result of exposure to polluted air, water, and soil in 2015.

The causes of death vary between cancers, lung, and heart disease, but the study shows that pollution is tied to a wider range of diseases than was previously thought.

RELATED: New York City before pollution regulations 

18 PHOTOS
New York City before pollution regulations
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New York City before pollution regulations

Many Documerica photos show scenes of general life in New York City in the 1970s, but several also document environmental issues.

Photo Credit: EPA/Documerica

In the first six months of 1973, more than 300 oil spills occurred in the New York City area. An oil slick creeps up on the Statue of Liberty in this 1973 photo.

More than 800 oil spills happened in the mid-Atlantic region during the same time period, according to a 1973 Coast Guard survey.

Source: The New York Times

Photo Credit: EPA/Documerica

Air pollution was also a huge issue in the city. As seen in this 1973 photo, smog obscures the George Washington Bridge.

Photo Credit: EPA/Documerica

A historic smog event in 1966 — when a mass of warm air trapped pollutants from vehicles, factories, and chimneys — prompted New York City to update its local air quality laws in the late 1960s. Here is a 1973 photo of the Twin Towers:

Source: The New York Times

Photo Credit: EPA/Documerica

EPA's national Clean Air Act, which controls industrial pollution, was passed in 1970.

Photo Credit: EPA/Documerica

In 1973, an abandoned car sat in Jamaica Bay ...

Photo Credit: EPA/Documerica

... and another was buried in sand on the Breezy Point Beach. Today, the EPA regulates landfills and auto salvage yards, but illegal disposal still happens.

Photo Credit: EPA/Documerica

The 1973 photo below shows broken glass on the same beach.

Photo Credit: EPA/Documerica

Over the years, the EPA has spearheaded mass trash removals that focus on toxic chemicals. According to the agency, some New York City residents worried about pollution and ecological damage from the Jamaica Bay landfill in the early 1970s.

Source: The US National Archives

Photo Credit: EPA/Documerica

You can see the Twin Towers behind the trash pile in this 1973 photo of an illegal dumping area off the New Jersey turnpike.

Photo Credit: EPA/Documerica

In Brooklyn, a Gravesend Bay landfill and incineration plant served as a playground for the boys pictured below. Another landfill in Staten Island, called Fresh Kills, was the largest in the world. By 2036, it will be reclaimed as a park.

 The Gravesend Bay landfill still exists today. In 2013, The New York Daily News reported that a New York City Sanitation Department study found high concentrations of two toxins banned by the EPA.

Source: Curbed

Photo Credit: EPA/Documerica

Garbage was dumped in the marshes of Spring Creek on Jamaica Bay, as seen in the 1973 image below.

Source: The New York Times

Photo Credit: EPA/Documerica

The city didn't stop discarding sewage into the ocean until 1992, due to an EPA mandate.

Photo Credit: EPA/Documerica

Building construction has long contributed to air pollution in NYC, though the EPA now regulates emissions from construction equipment. This 1973 photo shows waste from a construction site on Manhattan's lower west side.

Source: The City of New York

Photo Credit: EPA/Documerica

Rusty oil cans piled up near a home in a Jamaica Bay neighborhood. Today, the EPA sets standards on waste produced by oil and gas industries, with the goal of limiting public health hazards.

Source: EPA

Photo Credit: EPA/Documerica

In 2010, the EPA estimated that the Clean Air Act prevented over 160,000 early deaths, 130,000 heart attacks, and millions of cases of respiratory illness.

Source: EPA

Photo Credit: EPA/Documerica

Without strict EPA regulation, New York City's past could become its future.

Photo Credit: EPA/Documerica

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Lead author on the Lancet Commision on Pollution and Health, Dr. Philip Landrigan says: "Pollution in rapidly developing countries is just getting worse and worse and worse. And it isn't getting the attention it deserves.”

According to the study, pollution is responsible for 15 times more deaths than wars and all other forms of violence.

Landrigan says 92 percent of the deaths were in low and middle-income countries and hopes that developed countries can assist the poorer countries in creating health and pollution action plans.

RELATED: Vintage EPA photos from before pollution was regulated

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Vintage EPA photos from before pollution was regulated
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Vintage EPA photos from before pollution was regulated

Many of these photos show life in America at the time, but several also document concerning environmental issues.

David Shanklin, pictured here at age 19, lived in a coal-company town near Sunbright, West Virginia. Shanklin's father was killed in the mines in 1954, and though Shanklin wanted to become a miner, his mother didn't want him to.

(Photo by Jack Corn/Documerica)

Smog, seen here obscuring the George Washington Bridge in New York, was a far bigger problem.

(Photo by Chester Higgins/Documerica)

Factories burned discarded automobile batteries in the 1970s, releasing pollutants into the air. Current regulations require the batteries to be recycled without contaminating the surrounding area, though some are exported.

(Photo by Marc St. Gil/Documerica)

Mary Workman of Steubenville, Ohio, holds a jar of undrinkable water from her well in this photo. She filed a lawsuit against a coal company, accusing it of polluting her water. The EPA now uses the Clean Water Act to prevent companies from contaminating drinking water.

(Photo by Erik Calonius/Documerica)

An abandoned car sits in Jamaica Bay in New York City in 1973. Landfills and auto salvage yards fall under the EPA's regulations now, though improper disposal still occurs.

(Photo by Arthur Tress/Documerica)

The Atlas Chemical Company belches smoke across pasture land in Marshall, Texas, in this image. A local farmer told the photographer that the soot and chemicals had killed several of his cows.

(Photo by Marc St. Gil/Documerica)

Air pollution that can cause respiratory illness and other health problems was far less regulated before the EPA was founded. The EPA estimated that the Clean Air Act, which regulates pollution from industries, prevented more than 160,000 early deaths, 130,000 heart attacks, and millions of cases of respiratory illness in 2010 alone.

(Photo by Marc St. Gil/Documerica)

Source: EPA

Coal-mining companies were bigger polluters in the 1970s as well. President Donald Trump has pledged an industry resurgence and recently nominated a coal lobbyist to be Pruitt's second-in-command at the EPA.

A coal-mining operation in Arizona.

(Photo by Lyntha Scott Eiler/Documerica)

Source: Scientific American

Pollution in industrial cities like Cleveland, Ohio, was particularly severe.

(Photo by Frank J. Aleksandrowicz/Documerica)

This photo shows a burning barge on the Ohio River in May 1972. A fire on the Cuyahoga River in 1969 (the 13th time that river had caught fire) helped to inspire the creation of the EPA.

(Photo by William Strode/Documerica)

The agency helps regulate cleanups in particularly polluted sites. The Twin Towers are visible behind the trash heap in this image.

(Photo by Gary Miller/Documerica)

Trash and old tires littered the Baltimore Inner Harbor in 1973. The EPA regulates waste disposal now, including in coastal locations. EPA cleanups in the harbor over the years have targeted dangerous chemicals.

(Photo by Jim Pickerell/Documerica)

All kinds of trash used to be dumped outside New York City, like this car at Breezy Point, south of Jamaica Bay. The EPA helped institute regulations for how the city disposed of trash to prevent dumping in the Atlantic.

(Photo by Arthur Tress/Documerica)

Without regulation, more companies and manufacturers would be able to dump pollutants into waters and the air we breathe.

An oil slick surrounding the Statue of Liberty.

(Photo by Chester Higgins/Documerica)

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