»Rund 200 Millionen Menschen weltweit sind toxischer Umweltverschmutzung ausgesetzt« | Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik

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»Rund 200 Millionen Menschen weltweit sind toxischer Umweltverschmutzung ausgesetzt«

Bericht der Schweizer Stiftung "Green Cross" und der Umweltorganisation "Blacksmith Institute" zum Stand der weltweiten Umweltverschmutzung, 8.11.2013 (engl. Originalfassung)

[...] Green Cross Switzerland and Blacksmith currently estimate that more than 200 million people are at risk of exposure to toxic pollution globally. This estimate has increased substantially over the past several years, both because the scope of the exposure is increasing and because there is a better understanding of the problem.

In order to better understand the morbidity and mortality associated with toxic pollution, Green Cross Switzerland and Blacksmith quantified the public health burden in last years report by calculating the DALYs associated with the issues (the DALY being the recognized measure of the health burden, as established by the World Health Organization (WHO)). That report then examined the burden that toxic pollutants can put on population health in the context of the contaminated sites that are the focus of Green Cross Switzerland and Blacksmith’s work. The identification and investigation of polluted sites is an ongoing task, increasingly being picked up and shared by local agencies in the countries involved. Therefore discussion of geographic regions in this report is by no means complete since it only represents sites are have been identified and are under investigation to date.

The health effects of toxic pollution vary greatly in both the range and severity of disease and disability with which they are associated. The World Health Organization, in conjunction with the World Bank, estimates that 23% of deaths in the developing world are attributable to environmental factors, including pollution, and that environmental risk factors contribute to more than 80% of regularly reported diseases. In fact, it is estimated that up to 37% of a country’s total disease burden could be prevented by achieving environmental improvements alone. It is currently estimated that nearly one-fifth of the cancer incidence globally can be blamed on environmental exposures. This number is disproportionately higher in developing countries. Again, a recent study of more than 3,000 toxic sites, funded by the World Bank, European Commission, and Asian Development Bank, shows that as many as 200 million people globally maybe affected by toxic chemicals.

[...] Due to their smaller size, increased cellular surface area to volume ratio, and greater hand to mouth behavior, children are disproportionately affected by toxic pollutant exposure. The World Health Organization estimates that 33% of the global burden of disease for children is attributable to the environment. Health effects in children from exposures in utero can range from premature birth and low birth weight to vision and cognitive impairment. Once again, children in developing countries are disproportionately affected, as mal nourishment and inadequate access to resources leaves these children particularly vulnerable.

[...] An objective of the work of Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland and one goal of this report is to enhance understanding and funding for this crucial area of public health Greater efforts need to be made to control pollution and waste, as it is markedly easier and more economical to prevent toxic pollution problems than to clean them up. This series of annual reports exists not only to identify the major sources of toxic pollutants but also to present and explore some of the simple and cost-effective solutions that exist to remediate them. For each industry listed in this report, available preventative actions and remediation solutions are discussed. These solutions are meant to display the varied options that exist to reduce the risk of toxic pollution exposure. By presenting these options, the report hopes to encourage governments and industries to practical action.

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