London, 18 January: A pair of influential reports published by the medical journal, The Lancet, are a “gross distortion” of public health science and threaten to devastate public health in the developing world. That is the warning by eminent epidemiologist Mikko Paunio.
The Lancet Commissions on Pollution and Health have claimed that the third world is suffering appalling health effects from industrial pollution. But as Professor Paunio explains, this is far from the truth:
“Most of the deaths that they say are caused by industrial air pollution are actually caused by domestic heating and cooking with renewable energy such as wood and dung, and most of the deaths from diarrhea that they say are caused by polluted water are actually caused by poor hygiene because the poor do not have enough water for washing.”
Professor Paunio also says that the Lancet Commissions’ proposal for a ban on new fossil-fueled power stations will be devastating for human health:
“To prevent most of the deaths from diarrhea, you need abundant water supplies, and that depends on having a reliable electricity grid, which can only come from fossil fuels. Clean air depends on centralised power generation in large power stations.”
Dr Paunio has set out his position in a hard-hitting report published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) this week, just ahead of an important meeting of the World Health Organization Executive, which is expected to consider the Lancet Commission’s proposals.
“Professor Paunio writes clinically and factually to demonstrate the errors, exaggerations, distortions, misquotations and suppressions of established evidence which pervade The Lancet reports. His facts and arguments are vitally important and should be widely read,” writes former Labour minister Lord Donoughue in his foreword.
Dr Paunio is a former government scientist at the European Commission and the World Bank. He works at the health ministry in Finland and is an adjunct professor at the University of Helsinki. He is best known as one of the first scientists to speak out against Andrew Wakefield’s claims, also published in The Lancet, about the MMR vaccine and autism.