MORE THAN 100 million people worldwide are exposed to dangerous levels of toxic chemicals. These pollutants include radionuclides, industrial chemicals, pesticides and heavy metals, which may come from activities such as mining, industry, agriculture and weapons manufacture.
“The scope of [global] health impact is comparable to AIDS/HIV, or malaria, and that should call us into action to deal with this problem,” says Richard Fuller, president of the New York City-based NGO, the Blacksmith Institute.
Since 2006, the Institute has released a series of reports every year which have flagged the world’s most toxic threats and more than 2,500 sites in the developing world that are heavily polluted. “All of the sites that I have visited are tragic, horrible, shocking places that make your stomach turn,” says Fuller. “Often physical deformity is evident. These are not places I will bring my kids.”