Top Ten Worst Pollution Problems That Kill Millions – Including Ones You’ve Never Heard Of

By Stephen Leahychromium-a-carcinogenic-commonly-used-in-the-tanning-industry-noraiakheda-kanpur-india-photo-by-blacksmith-institute-sml

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Oct 23 (IPS)

Gold mining and recycling car batteries are two of the world’s Top 10 most dangerous pollution problems, and the least known, according a new report.

The health of hundreds of millions of people is affected and millions die because of preventable pollution problems like toxic waste, air pollution, ground and surface water contamination, metal smelting and processing, used car battery recycling and artisanal gold mining, the “Top Ten” report found.

“The global health burden from pollution is astonishing, and mainly affects women and children,” said Richard Fuller, director of the New York- based Blacksmith Institute, a independent environmental group that released the list Tuesday in partnership with Green Cross Switzerland.

“The world community needs to wake up to this fact,” Fuller told IPS.

children-are-developmentally-impaired-as-a-result-of-lead-poisoning-haina-dominican-republic-photo-by-blacksmith-institute-smlIn previous years, the Blacksmith Institute has released a Top Ten list of toxic sites. The Institute continues to compile a detailed database with over 600 toxic sites and will release the world’s first detailed global inventory in a couple of years.

However, this year, rather than focus on places, it wants to bring specific pollution issues to world attention. And in particular highlight the health impacts — a 2007 Cornell University study that 40 percent of all deaths worldwide are directly attributable to pollution, he said.

Remediation and preventing much of this pollution are not only possible but cost-effective, especially when compared to other international efforts to improve health in developing countries.

Sometimes it is simply a matter of information and alternatives, as Fuller learned on a recent investigation in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, where children had died from lead poisoning. “Women from some poor areas of Dakar were hoping to make some money recycling car batteries and ended up accidentally killing their children,” he said.

[ Is this article of interest? It was funded in part through contributions from readers. Please click here to learn more.]

In the tropics, car batteries only last a year or two and so there is a thriving recycling industry. However, much of this is done by very poor people who break open the batteries with axes and melt them down on open fires. Lead dust fills the air and children playing nearby inhaled the toxic lead dust, and some died.

“It is very difficult to die from lead poisoning, it takes an awful lot of lead,” Fuller said.

Fuller and colleagues measured the lead levels in the blood of surviving children and found levels 10 times the maximum allowed in the U.S. Lead is a potent neurotoxin and children are especially sensitive, as it affects their developing nervous systems and brains. “These are now the brain-damaged children of Dakar,” he said.empty-car-battery-casings-india-photo-by-blacksmith-institute-sml

Blacksmith arranged to have the site in Dakar cleaned up but because it is an important source of income for the poor, the batteries are still collected but are now being shipped to proper recycling facilities. The World Health Organisation is trying to treat the affected children, he said.

“There is no simple, universal solution. It has to be solved on step by step, one place at a time basis,” Fuller noted.

Another of the biggest overlooked pollution issues comes from artisanal and small-scale mining involving some 15 million miners, including 4.5 million women and 600,000 children, the report finds. As much as 95 percent of the mercury used to recover the gold ends up in the environment. That mercury represents 30 percent of all mercury emitted into the global environment each year from all sources including power plants, according to the U.N. Industrial Development Organisation.

“It’s an enormous problem that transcends boundaries. That mercury ends up in the tuna we eat here in North America,” Fuller said.dangers-of-small-scale-gold-mining-thailand-photo-by-tom-murphy-and-blacksmith-institute-sml

Mercury is another potent neurotoxin and is dangerous in extremely small quantities. Hundreds of kilogrammes are used every day for gold recovery. “Artisanal miners are the poorest of the poor and you can’t just tell them to stop,” he said.

For complete article see Worst Forms of Pollution Killing Millions

Additional Articles about toxic wastes/pollutants

100 Million Suffering in World’s Toxic Hotspots – 1% of Wall Street Bonuses Would End This In a Year

Rising Wealth Spells Disaster for the Planet, Study Finds

Tsunami of E-Waste Could Swamp Developing Countries

10 Worst Places on Earth – 2007

 


8 thoughts on “Top Ten Worst Pollution Problems That Kill Millions – Including Ones You’ve Never Heard Of

  1. Thank you for this article. This is exactly where our attention and focused efforts need to be. If even a small fraction of the money and effort expended on the Global Warming – CO2 boondoggle was directed to these critical areas, we could see a vast improvement in peoples health and in a global environmental recovery.
    This issue is near and dear to my heart, yet every time I talk about it, I am accused of being an enemy of the environment, when the opposite is true.
    I suspect it will not change until either people come to their senses and jump off the CO2 bandwagon, or Al Gore comes up with a way to make money from it just like the Carbon Credit scam.
    Reduce. ReUse. Recycle.

  2. Scott, I agree that solving these pollution problems would provide huge and immediate improvements in peoples’ lives. However global warming is a real and present danger just less obvious at this point. Read some of the many articles I’ve written about it and posted.

    And 3Rs are important see http://21greentips.wordpress.com/

  3. Mexico City Governor Marcelo Ebrard is planning to install 4 garbage recycling and burning systems over three natural aquifers located each in Tláhuac, Tlalpan and Xochimilco. Few people know about the danger of contaminating the air, the soil and the aquifers. We are a group of neighbors with a real concern and would like help in denouncing this plan of the Governor Marcelo Ebrard. Any feedback or suggestions are welcome. Thanks for any you can provide. I live in Tlalpan which has the largest aquifer of Valle de Anahuac and I am really concerned. We need to expose this plan universally.

  4. yes.It is devastating to see this, but one more profesion is on the same dngerous route=SHIP BREAKING.

  5. With havin so much content and articles do you
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    My site has a lot of unique content I’ve either created myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my agreement. Do you know any ways to help reduce content from being ripped off? I’d genuinely
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