The Global Fool

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Toxic Hot Spots: A Global Health Threat
May11

Toxic Hot Spots: A Global Health Threat

By The Editors Toxic Hot Spots are areas where the concentration of toxic substances, which may be present in water, soil or air, is significantly higher than background levels. In these areas, the risk of adverse health effects is elevated. Toxic hot spots are often located in the vicinity of landfills, car battery recycling sites, sewage treatment plants, refineries, tanneries, mines, and numerous other operations.  Living nearby these sites may cause serious adverse affects, as for example cancer and retardation in children.. We usually think of infectious diseases as the major global health problem.  However, a new study by Kevin Chatham-Stephens and collaborators, published this month in Environmental Health Perspectives, shows that living near a toxic hot spot may lead to a higher health threat than some of the most dangerous infectious diseases worldwide, such as malaria and tuberculosis. The study focuses on three countries, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines.  The researchers estimate that more than eight million persons in these countries suffered disease, disability, or death resulting from exposures to industrial contaminants in 2010. The toxic substances causing the majority of negative health effects are lead and hexavalent chromium, a carcinogen. The researchers conclude that “toxic waste sites are a major, and heretofore under-recognized, global health problem.” The study results confirm the findings of the 2012 World’s Worst Pollution Problems report, which clearly shows the large extent of the global health impact of pollution. The image below (from the University of Hedelberg) is a global map showing pollution hotspots around the world.  In this case, the hotspots were located in 2004 through detection of nitrogen dioxide, which is released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels by power plants, heavy industry and vehicles....

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The Plastic Footprint
May09

The Plastic Footprint

By The Editors Plastic pollution is a major global threat.  Plastics are durable, degrade very slowly and may persist in the environment for hundreds or even thousands of years, resulting in the increasing accumulation of plastic debris in our seas.  The best solution to the problem would be to produce and consume less plastic. However, plastic production is on the rise.  According to PlasticsEurope, worldwide plastics production rose to 280 million tonnes in 2011, representing around 4% increase from 2010, when 270 million tonnes of plastics were produced.  From 2010 to 2016, global plastics consumption is expected to grow by an average of about 4 % each year. What to do then?  The Plastic Disclosure Project offers one solution that, along with many other interventions, may help alleviate the problem.  The model for this initiative is the Carbon Disclosure Project, which motivates companies to disclose their impact on environment and natural resources and take action to reduce them. Similarly, the Plastic Disclosure Project  encourages companies to assess their plastic footprint along with that of their suppliers and service providers. The video below, from the Plastic Disclosure Project, shows the global impact of plastic pollution and explains how assessing the plastic footprint raises awareness of the problem and helps companies to develop innovative strategies for reducing their environmental...

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