Nairobi — Environmental damage caused by man-made activities is having a devastating toll on human health, the UN said on Wednesday, warning of millions of premature deaths due to air and water pollution by 2050 if action is not taken. Seen as the most comprehensive and rigorous assessment on the state of the environment, the UN’s Global Environment Outlook said human health was in “dire straits” due to unsustainable development and poor environmental protection. Air pollution from vehicles and industry as well as burning fuels such as wood, coal and kerosene for cooking, heating and lighting was resulting in about seven-million deaths annually, said the report — costing about $5-trillion in welfare losses. Water quality has worsened due to increased organic and chemical pollutants such as plastic, pathogens, heavy metals and pesticides. Almost 1.5-million people die annually due to diseases related to drinking pathogen-polluted water, it said.

“Our key message is that a healt...

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