Should Pollution Take Priority?

imgresA recent study has shown the leading cause of death in developing countries in not malaria, AIDS, or even Ebola as recent news sources may have suggested. Instead, the responsible party for one out of every seven deaths worldwide is pollution: nearly 8.9 million deaths annually (Petru 2015). According to the same report, developing countries share the greatest percentage of this burden; with nearly 94% of all pollution-related deaths occur within their borders; 3.7 million to ambient air pollution alone (WHO 2014). This issue cannot be ignored, although members of the Global Alliance on Health Pollution are concerned that the current draft of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals does not address pollution as a priority (Petru 2014). Effects of pollution in developing countries are not contained within their borders, however. Pollution entering the air and oceans can and will end up around the world. Air pollution in developing countries requires new policy and immediate action in order to curb the number of annual deaths. In this post, , I will use the policy process framework in order to analyze policy surrounding this issue.

The Policy Process framework consists of six stages: Agenda Setting, Policy Formation, Policy Legitimization, Policy Implementation, Policy Evaluation, and Policy Change. The stage has been set for developed countries to aid developing countries in industrialization in order to utilize the best technologies and avoid same byproducts produced by developed countries. In striving for policy to address industrialization, life (and death) of the residents involved can be overlooked. To avoid overlooking the importance of local air quality when agenda setting, the problem must be defined to include the importance of the local air quality, not only the net CO2 emissions contributing to global climate change. In 2010, the EPA found that the United State’s clean air laws prevented 190,000 deaths and projected preventing 230,000 in 2020 (EPA 2011). These laws were created with local air quality in mind. Air quality regulations can also spur economic growth as seen with the implementation of the Clean Air Act in the US. When framing the problem, it is important to emphasize economic and improved human health incentives that come with the solution. If developed countries assist developing countries in reducing their air pollution, not only will the developing countries create jobs from which to carry out the implementation, but the developing countries will become more self-sufficient, human mortality will decrease, and global air quality will improve as a result as well.

Policy Formulation involves developing a course of action. After framing air quality as a central issue with improved human health and economic development as byproducts of the solution, the policy formation should include action to achieve these goals. This particular action can include assistance in technology acquisition to improve local air quality as well as economic assistance to clean up the poor air quality that exists now.

Once a policy is formed, it needs legal force before it can be implemented. This requires Policy Legitimization. The proposer of this policy plays a crucial role in the implementation process. For instance, if the policy is proposed by the WHO or by the UN, it will be seen as more legitimate to developing countries and existing nations than if it is proposed by a local government in Montana. Once the policy is considered legitimate, it will be up for implementation by either the policy proposer such as the UN or by another organization such as the EPA (for the US to aid developing countries). Once the policy is active, it will undergo Policy Evaluation, and, if necessary, Policy Change.

All of these stages require careful consideration in order to make sufficient enough change to reduce, if not eliminate, the massive death toll due to pollution.



Petru, Alexis, “Pollution Blamed as Leading Cause of Death in the Developing World,” Environmental News Network, 28 Jan, 2015. (Accessed Jan. 28, 2015).

WHO, “Burden of Disease from Ambient Air Pollution for 2012,” World Health Organization, 2014. (Accessed Jan. 28, 2015).

Petru, Alexis, “Air Pollution Now Responsible for 1 in 8 Deaths Worldwide, Study Shows,” TriplePundt, 8 April 2014. (Accessed Jan. 28, 2015).

EPA, “The Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act from 1990-2020,” United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2011. (Accessed Jan. 28, 2015).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *