By The Editors
A report released in 2012 by the Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland pointed out that the disease burden of pollution is comparable in scope to that of more well-known public health threats, such as malaria or tuberculosis. The burden of disease measures the relative impact of different diseases and injuries on populations. As comparison, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally, there were about 219 million cases of malaria in 2010 and an estimated 660 000 deaths due to the disease, whereas in 2012 an estimated 8.6 million people developed tuberculosis and 1.3 million died from it.
Yesterday (November 4, 2013), the Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland published the 2013 report of the world’s worst polluted places. The report is based on data from industry information, public sources, and the scientific literature. This is the first list of polluted sites released by the two groups since 2007. Richard Fuller, president of Blacksmith Institute, says “In this year’s report, we cite some of the most polluted places we’ve encountered. But it is important to point out that the problem is really much larger than these ten sites. We estimate that the health of more than 200 million people is at risk from pollution in the developing world.”
The report states that “Even though toxic pollution remains a far less well-known problem, it is believed to have a similar impact on death and disability in developing countries as many well-known and well-funded diseases. This year’s report demonstrates this increased understanding of the problem and how much progress has been made in the past several years. It also demonstrates how much further there is to go.”
The health effects of toxic pollution are complex and are as varied as the types of pollution and the possible combinations of different types of pollution. For example, it is currently estimated that nearly one-fifth of the cancer incidence globally is due to environmental exposures. This number is disproportionately higher in developing countries.
Below is the list of the world’s worst polluted places in 2013 (unranked):
Agbobloshie, Ghana; Chernobyl, Ukraine; Citarum River, Indonesia; Dzershinsk, Russia; Hazaribagh, Bangladesh; Kabwe, Zambia; Kalimantan, Indonesia; Matanza Riachuelo, Argentina; Niger River Delta, Nigeria; Norilsk, Russia.
“In this year’s report, we cite some of the most polluted places we’ve encountered. But it is important to point out that the problem is really much larger than these ten sites,” says Richard Fuller, president of Blacksmith Institute. “We estimate that the health of more than 200 million people is at risk from pollution in the developing world.”
The report, entitled “The Top Ten Toxic Threats: Cleanup, Progress, and Ongoing Challenges“, presents and explores some simple and cost-effective solutions to remediate the major sources of toxic pollutants and reduce the risk of exposure to toxic pollution. The goal is to encourage governments and industries to take practical action.