mohandasgandhi:

Pollution as big a health problem as malaria or TB, harming well over 125 million people, finds report

Waste from mining, lead smelters, industrial dumps and other toxic sites affects the health of an estimated 125 million people in 49 low- and middle-income countries. This unrecognised health burden is on the scale of malaria or tuberculosis (TB), a new report has found.
This year’s World’s worst pollution problems (pdf) report was published on Tuesday by the Blacksmith Institute in partnership with Green Cross Switzerland. It documents, for the first time, the public health impact of industrial pollutants – lead, mercury, chromium, radionuclides and pesticides – in the air, water and soil of developing countries.
“This is an extremely conservative estimate,” said Bret Ericson of the Blacksmith Institute, a small international NGO based in New York City. “We’ve investigated 2,600 toxic sites in the last four years, [but] we know there are far more.”
The US has an estimated 100,000-300,000 toxic sites, mainly factories or industrial areas, but toxic sites in the low- and middle-income countries assessed in the report are often in residential areas. “We see a lot of disease when we go into these communities,” said Ericson. “But we were surprised the health burden was so high – as much as malaria.”
Ericson cited gold mining in the Nigerian state of Zamfara by way of example. In 2010, Médecins Sans Frontières doctors carrying out vaccinations in villages in Zamfara were shocked to see so few children. The villagers were small-scale gold miners who crushed gold-bearing rocks inside village compounds; the raw ore contained extremely high levels of lead, which had killed hundreds of children and left thousands more with lead poisoning.
The health impact of exposure to toxins at the 2,600 sites identified in the report was estimated using the disability adjusted life years (DALYs) metric, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other bodies use to measure overall disease burden. The metric is expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death, with one DALY equivalent to one lost year of healthy life. The estimate for impact of pollution from toxic sites is 17m DALYs; according to the WHO, malaria’s annual toll is 14m DALYs.
The human toll of pollution in terms of lost productivity, healthcare cost, lowered life expectancy and social impact is very high.Countries need to wise up to this and realise there are inexpensive ways to avoid toxic pollution, said Ericson.
Stephan Robinson, of Green Cross Switzerland, identifies globalisation, and especially mining and resource extraction, as the reason for many toxic sites. The high price of gold has led to increases in both small- and large-scale mining, while lead production rose 10% last year to meet the needs of battery and electronics manufacturers. “Much of this industrial activity is to serve our needs in the developed world,” said Robinson, who added that toxic sites have received very little attention internationally despite their significant impact on the health of millions of people.
According to Green Cross, 4m-10m tonnes of obsolete but still dangerous pesticides have been abandoned in tens of thousands of locations and must be destroyed. The cost of doing so will range from $3,000-8,000 (£1,900-5,000) a tonne, but attributing responsibility is difficult and it is unclear who will foot the bill, said Robinson. The survey did not include ongoing industrial and large petro-chemical sites.
Top 10 toxic industries in 2012, listed by DALY
Lead-acid battery recycling (4.8m)
Lead smelting (2.6m)
Mining and ore processing (2.5m)
Tannery operations (1.93m)
Industrial/municipal dump sites (1.23m)
Industrial estates (1.06m)
Artisanal gold mining (1.021m)
Product manufacturing (786,000)
Chemical manufacturing (765,000)
Dye industry (430,000)

It is extremely important to emphasize the role the developed world plays in this. The demand for goods produced in toxic industries largely comes from the developed world and many corporations based there purchase these materials from industries in the developing world with low environmental regulations and safety standards for employees simply because it’s cheaper to do so. Corporations in the developed world also buy out many of the industries in the developing world or outsource production to skid regulations and produce products at a much lower cost. They essentially exploit individuals living in countries with few environmental and worker safety regulations for cheaper products at a faster rate. 
For those of us in the developed world, rather than putting pressure on governments in the developing world, which often face serious issues that slow down the legislation-making process, such as corruption, to implement stricter environmental regulations and worker safety standards, what is often effective is putting pressure on industries in the developing world to demand higher standards for those they do business with and on our governments to better regulate international trade. In our capitalistic system, these are very difficult issues to solve internationally due to the vast economic incentives of each actor. Businesses have an incentive to minimize external costs and production costs in order to maximize profits and governments in the developing world, which often govern over a poor populace, have incentives to increase revenues within their respected countries. Lending support to workers movements which petition their governments for higher working standards and increased worker control over their labor, benefits, and industries is also very important and can help stamp out these disgusting industrial practices, giving more power to the workers as opposed to corporations to solve these problems, whose only incentive is to maximize profits.

mohandasgandhi:

Pollution as big a health problem as malaria or TB, harming well over 125 million people, finds report

Waste from mining, lead smelters, industrial dumps and other toxic sites affects the health of an estimated 125 million people in 49 low- and middle-income countries. This unrecognised health burden is on the scale of malaria or tuberculosis (TB), a new report has found.

This year’s World’s worst pollution problems (pdf) report was published on Tuesday by the Blacksmith Institute in partnership with Green Cross Switzerland. It documents, for the first time, the public health impact of industrial pollutants – lead, mercury, chromium, radionuclides and pesticides – in the air, water and soil of developing countries.

“This is an extremely conservative estimate,” said Bret Ericson of the Blacksmith Institute, a small international NGO based in New York City. “We’ve investigated 2,600 toxic sites in the last four years, [but] we know there are far more.”

The US has an estimated 100,000-300,000 toxic sites, mainly factories or industrial areas, but toxic sites in the low- and middle-income countries assessed in the report are often in residential areas. “We see a lot of disease when we go into these communities,” said Ericson. “But we were surprised the health burden was so high – as much as malaria.”

Ericson cited gold mining in the Nigerian state of Zamfara by way of example. In 2010, Médecins Sans Frontières doctors carrying out vaccinations in villages in Zamfara were shocked to see so few children. The villagers were small-scale gold miners who crushed gold-bearing rocks inside village compounds; the raw ore contained extremely high levels of lead, which had killed hundreds of children and left thousands more with lead poisoning.

The health impact of exposure to toxins at the 2,600 sites identified in the report was estimated using the disability adjusted life years (DALYs) metric, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other bodies use to measure overall disease burden. The metric is expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death, with one DALY equivalent to one lost year of healthy life. The estimate for impact of pollution from toxic sites is 17m DALYs; according to the WHO, malaria’s annual toll is 14m DALYs.

The human toll of pollution in terms of lost productivity, healthcare cost, lowered life expectancy and social impact is very high.Countries need to wise up to this and realise there are inexpensive ways to avoid toxic pollution, said Ericson.

Stephan Robinson, of Green Cross Switzerland, identifies globalisation, and especially mining and resource extraction, as the reason for many toxic sites. The high price of gold has led to increases in both small- and large-scale mining, while lead production rose 10% last year to meet the needs of battery and electronics manufacturers. “Much of this industrial activity is to serve our needs in the developed world,” said Robinson, who added that toxic sites have received very little attention internationally despite their significant impact on the health of millions of people.

According to Green Cross, 4m-10m tonnes of obsolete but still dangerous pesticides have been abandoned in tens of thousands of locations and must be destroyed. The cost of doing so will range from $3,000-8,000 (£1,900-5,000) a tonne, but attributing responsibility is difficult and it is unclear who will foot the bill, said Robinson. The survey did not include ongoing industrial and large petro-chemical sites.

Top 10 toxic industries in 2012, listed by DALY

  1. Lead-acid battery recycling (4.8m)
  2. Lead smelting (2.6m)
  3. Mining and ore processing (2.5m)
  4. Tannery operations (1.93m)
  5. Industrial/municipal dump sites (1.23m)
  6. Industrial estates (1.06m)
  7. Artisanal gold mining (1.021m)
  8. Product manufacturing (786,000)
  9. Chemical manufacturing (765,000)
  10. Dye industry (430,000)

It is extremely important to emphasize the role the developed world plays in this. The demand for goods produced in toxic industries largely comes from the developed world and many corporations based there purchase these materials from industries in the developing world with low environmental regulations and safety standards for employees simply because it’s cheaper to do so. Corporations in the developed world also buy out many of the industries in the developing world or outsource production to skid regulations and produce products at a much lower cost. They essentially exploit individuals living in countries with few environmental and worker safety regulations for cheaper products at a faster rate.

For those of us in the developed world, rather than putting pressure on governments in the developing world, which often face serious issues that slow down the legislation-making process, such as corruption, to implement stricter environmental regulations and worker safety standards, what is often effective is putting pressure on industries in the developing world to demand higher standards for those they do business with and on our governments to better regulate international trade. In our capitalistic system, these are very difficult issues to solve internationally due to the vast economic incentives of each actor. Businesses have an incentive to minimize external costs and production costs in order to maximize profits and governments in the developing world, which often govern over a poor populace, have incentives to increase revenues within their respected countries. Lending support to workers movements which petition their governments for higher working standards and increased worker control over their labor, benefits, and industries is also very important and can help stamp out these disgusting industrial practices, giving more power to the workers as opposed to corporations to solve these problems, whose only incentive is to maximize profits.

Enhanced by Zemanta

(via amodernmanifesto)

What are you doing to reduce your Oil Consumption?

Black ice - Russian oil disaster | Greenpeace International

For decades, Russia’s oil giants have been polluting parts of the country’s once thriving landscape, often in secret, spilling oil onto the land and into the Arctic Ocean, poisoning the water and destroying the livelihood of local communities and Indigenous Peoples.

Greenpeace has investigated and documented the ongoing disaster, revealing how the oil seeps into rivers and farmland. This leaked oil spreads and becomes a thick, heavy mire, suffocating plants and animals, and forcing people to abandon the area. The oil contaminates food and water supplies, and people live with the knowledge that their once clean rivers, forests and air now pose serious health risks.

Valery Bratenkov

Valery Bratenkov works as a foreman at oil fields outside Usinsk. After hours, he is with a local environmental group. Bratenkov used to point out to his bosses that oil spills often happen under their noses and asked them to repair the pipelines. “They were offended and said that costs too much money.” (Source: AP on location with Greenpeace)

In the oil development area, the spilled oil forms toxic lakes, suffocates the vegetation, penetrates the soil, and seeps into the groundwater. In the little village of Ust’-Usa the people live with the consequences every day.

The Russian oil industry spills more than 30 million barrels on land each year — seven times the amount that escaped during the Deepwater Horizon disaster — often under a veil of secrecy and corruption. And every 18 months, more than four million barrels spews into the Arctic Ocean, where it becomes everyone’s problem.

So, I came across an article this morning about an odd oil-rig protest as part of my morning read. A handful of activists are protesting the first ever oil rig in the Arctic sea. They’ve literally tied themselves to the side of big tanker ship in the Arctic.

Yeah, bizarre but it’s true. Greenpeace is live blogging it now. The Russian Coast Guard has been called in and the protesters will be in big trouble, I’m sure of it.

The oil rig is run by the largest natural gas company in the world, called Gazprom. It’s also Russia’s largest company. They’re also one of the most pollutive, hazardous companies on planet Earth. I didn’t know any of this until this morning. What do you think can be done?

(via climateadaptation)

(via jayaprada)

Keep Doing What You’re Doing Dumbasses

Ten of the most polluted places on the planet”

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.”

Scandal of the Tar Sands

kadbudugorjeligradovi:

Alex Smith | 12.04.2012 03:22 

A top Canadian scientist exposes a scandalous government cover-up of poisons moving from the Tar Sands to dying aboriginal people. David Schindler speech excerpts. Radio Ecoshock 31 min

The big oil companies are spending millions, even hundreds of millions of dollars, to convince you they produce what they call “ethical oil”. It’s everywhere. News columnists blather on about the wonderful “oil sands” and why we can’t live without them. Never mind the full page ads from tar sands companies in the same newspapers.

I can’t even go to a movie without seeing Hollywood-quality ads with butterflies and forests all around the new clean green Tar Sands operations.

Here is the other side of the story - a quick clip of a talk by Mike Mercredi, an aboriginal man from Fort Chipewyan, downstream from the Tar Sands.

(In the audio, Mike lists out his relatives that are dead or dying of cancer, which was unknown to them in previous generations, before the Tar Sands came upstream of their drinking water and fishing grounds)

I recorded that in 2008, when we had no experts to back him up. Listen to the whole Radio Ecoshock program “Climate Terrorism: The Tar Sands” 3 speakers recorded December 5th in Vancouver, listed on our 2008 show archive page at ecoshock.org.

 http://www.ecoshock.net/eshock08/ES_081205_Show_LoFi.mp3


As you will hear in this program, they are lying about being able to reclaim land to their former natural state. The oil companies and the governments who collude with them are faking and hiding the health effects.

The whole tar sands operation is a world-scale Ponzi scheme which will bankrupt future generations with the costs of clean-up, - if any remediation is possible. Or they will do what most mining companies do: leave a massive open scar upon the earth, all for the quick quarterly profits of foreign multinationals.

Why says so? According to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and his Environment Minister, anyone who criticizes the Tar Sands is just a foreign-funded radical - unpatriotic environmentalists.

Let’s meet one of those radicals. Here is the introduction to Dr. David Schindler, before his speech in Vancouver, on March 28th, 2012. The intro is by John Pierce, Dean, Faculty of Arts, Simon Fraser University.

(audio: Schindler helped discover that phosphorus from detergents and water treatment plants was killing the Great Lakes; he proved acid rain was coming from coal plant pollution; he’s recently done a study of Tar Sands pollution. Schindler has an Order of Canada, is a member of the Royal Society, and has many, many honors.)

That’s the wild-eyed radical the Prime Minister fears. A life-long scientist who helped clean up the Great Lakes from phosphorus, who proved the source of acid-rain, a world-recognized and heavily awarded expert, David Schindler.

David is no fly-in academic from New York. He lives in Northern Alberta. He’s fished in the many streams threatened by the proposed Enbridge northern pipeline. He’s measures the water and the air, finding pollution governments denied.

In the program I summarize some of the surprising revelations in this speech, bolstered by selected audio. For example, did you know the tiny amounts of supposedly reclaimed lands can never be returned to their previous state, because the mine tailings are too salty?

I also didn’t realize the biggest source of pollution is actually air-borne. We’ll learn all that and more in this work-shop from Canada’s top Tar Sands expert, a quiet but devastating critic of the world’s dirtiest source of oil.

* Tar Sands chemicals flood local rivers, probably explaining higher levels of cancer in aboriginal Canadians downstream.

* The government won’t investigate the many deaths there.

* The former Alberta caribou herds will never return.

* The forests are being stripped in an area projected to be larger than the state of Florida.

* Countless tons of methane are burned and released just to get oil out of the sands.

* The corrosive raw oil is carried in a network of pipelines, tankers, trucks, and famous spills. It’s an industrial spider web reaching down into the United States, indeed all over North America.

* Wherever you live in the world, the Tar Sands are wrecking your atmosphere, as the single largest industrial source of greenhouse gases on the planet.

The damage can be seen from space, and will last for thousands of years. Welcome to your secure energy source, your damned “ethical” oil.
—————————-

David begins with the tailing ponds, some of which are just meters away from the Athabasca River. According to Tar Sands Watch, every square meter of oil-bearing bitumen mined creates six square meters of tailing. These are tossed into toxic lakes now covering more than 55 square kilometers, over 13,000 acres and growing rapidly. The tailing dyke of just one company, Syncrude, is the second largest dam in the world. Only the Chinese Three Gorges Dam is larger.

Here is David Schindler…
[SH1_TailingsAthabasca etc. 1:38]

David then makes several key points. First, development in both the Tar Sands operations, and in the surrounding town and infrastructure has far outstripped any planning process or regulation. It’s a wild-west anything-goes oil rush. As that building boom grew, the size of planning and regulatory bodies needed to keep pace. Instead successive governments have cut funding, to the point that hardly anything is monitored, regulated, or planned.

Second: while the many foreign corporations make obscene multi-billions in profits, the Canadian public gets less and less of the revenues. Governments, with political parties heavily funded by oil companies, kept reducing the percentage going to the Canadian public. Later, we’ll find the whole cleanup bill is mounting, as reclamation is stalled for decades. Young Canadians will pay those astronomic bills.

[SH2_FastDevleopment_massiveprofits 4:43]

From the recording March 28th, in Vancouver, here is what David Schindler says about “ethical oil”.

[SH3_Ethical_Oil 2:58]

OK, now we are going for a long walk through David Schindler’s presentation. He talks about cancer in the Native people; how the industry-sponsored river testing found NOTHING, no contaminants from super-polluting smoke stacks. His own team of scientists found a wide range of heavy metals and toxic polycarbonates the industry and government somehow failed to detect.

This can be heavy going, with a map you can’t see, but hang in. David Schindler all along gives you the big picture references that nobody else is talking about. For example, there are two giant chemical complexes called “the upgraders” which process the raw bitumen. These are sending out pollution for 50 miles around. It accumulates on the snow, and on the frozen rivers, until the fast Spring melt supercharges all the waters with toxic chemicals. It’s the quiet science of the horrific.

[SH4_ScienceTesting 17 min]

That was Dr. David Schindler, an internationally renowned scientist working in Canada, talking about his team research into pollution from the Tar Sands. This was recorded by Alex Smith at the Simon Fraser University Wosk Centre in downtown Vancouver on March 28, 2012.

LISTEN TO/DOWNLOAD THIS RADIO ECOSHOCK SEGMENT ON DAVID SCHINDLER (31 minutes) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi
 http://www.ecoshock.org/downloads/energy/ES_Schindler.mp3
 http://www.ecoshock.org/downloads/energy/ES_Schindler_LoFi.mp3

I hope you got one of the stories Schindler explained. As I understand it, Dr. Schindler and other scientists could not accept the industry-funded government approved study saying that NONE of the dirty pollutants from the tar sands operations could be measured in the Athabasca River or its tributaries. They found the alleged testing set up measuring stations either upstream of the operations, or far down river near the river mouth at Lake Athabasca, where dilution would be greatest. The testing method had a baseline, or used techniques, which eliminated low levels of contaminants.

Three scientists, David Schindler, Jeff Short of NOAA, and Peter Hodson, a toxicologist at Queens University took their own samples. These included sites near the Tar Sands operations. This independent team used better testing methods. They found low levels of many, many toxic substances, especially near the so-called upgrader plants, where air pollution is strong and obvious. This is a scandal! The First Nations people living downstream from the tar sands complained for years their families were dying of cancer. Industry and the government told the victims there was no pollution in their water.

After the not-so-mysterious cancer deaths of the First Nations people, and after two decades of warnings from scientists, here are the results of the health impacts study done by the Canadian government: nothing!

They don’t investigate. They don’t care. There are billions of dollars of profits to be made every year. That is what matters.

You aren’t going to hear the dirty truth about the tar sands from any authority, and certainly not from the millions spent on propaganda by the multinational oil companies digging out the tar.

We are out of time for this week, but not out of ammunition. In an upcoming Radio Ecoshock show, you’ll hear more from famous scientist David Schindler. He’ll tell us why the heavily advertised “restoration” of the scoured landscape is fake. Remaking nature is not possible, and it’s not going to happen.

Alex Smith

source: radio ecoshock

More Joys of Civilization

Chinese angry over pollutionBeijing - Millions of Chinese went online on Tuesday to vent their anger over the thick smog that has blanketed Beijing in recent days, raising health fears and causing hundreds of flights to be cancelled.Sales of facemasks were reported to have surged as residents of China’s heavily polluted capital sought to protect themselves from the air, which US embassy figures ranked “very unhealthy”.Beijing’s main airport cancelled hundreds of flight due to the poor visibility on Sunday and Monday, angering passengers at the world’s second-busiest airport.Visibility had improved by Tuesday, but 80 domestic and 10 international flights had been cancelled by 12:00 due to light snow.Users of Sina’s weibo - one of China’s popular micro-blogging sites - expressed frustration at the delays to their journeys, with one saying it had taken him 24 hours to travel to Beijing from the southern city of Shenzhen.Air quality”I’m exhausted.

Embedly Powered

via News24

"Apple attacked over pollution in China"

Keep buying the IPhones and computers - kill us all.

Amplify’d from www.ft.com

China’s breakneck economic growth has been accompanied by widespread environmental degradation, and historically lax pollution rules have given Chinese manufacturers a cost advantage. However, tightening regulation by Beijing and growing environmental awareness – most recently on display in a 12,000-strong protest in Dalian earlier this month – are slowly changing the trend.

Apple, whose chief executive Steve Jobs resigned last week due to ill health, has faced controversy over its suppliers in China before. In May, an explosion at a Foxconn factory in Chengdu producing the iPad 2 killed three workers and injured more than a dozen more. In February, Apple said that 137 workers had been poisoned in 2009 by a chemical used to clean iPhone screens in a Wintek factory in Suzhou.

According to the report, in the eastern Chinese city of Kunshan, air pollution from two electronics factories prompted villagers to send their children to faraway schools. Villagers also say they have noticed increased cancer rates since the two factories, Kaedar Electronics (Kunshan) and Unimicron Electronics, were established, according to the report. Analysts said that Unimicron and Pegatron, the parent company of Kaedar, were suppliers to Apple, but could not confirm whether Kaedar was.

Apple did not respond to questions seeking to confirm whether individual companies mentioned in the report were its suppliers or not.

“Apple is committed to driving the highest standards of social responsibility throughout our supply base,” said Carolyn Wu, an Apple spokeswoman. “We require that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made.”

In its latest supplier responsibility report, the company said 2010 audits had found that 80 facilities were not storing or handling hazardous chemicals properly. Apple’s report said the company required the non-compliant facilities to correct their hazardous waste handling, storage and disposal practices and to maintain documentation of these operations.

Kaedar declined to comment and Unimicron could not be reached.

Read more at www.ft.com
 See this Amp at http://on.ft.com/naKJTY

Seeking permission to pollute

We know it’s bad but we can’t stop. We don’t know how to live without poisoning ourselves.

Amplify’d from www.chicagotribune.com
Seeking permission to pollute
A monitor at George Washington High School on the Southeast Side shows that air in the neighborhood has the distinction of containing the state’s highest levels of toxic heavy metals, chromium and cadmium, as well as sulfates, which can trigger asthma attacks and increase the risk of heart disease.

The school sits across from a long-shuttered industrial site where Leucadia National Corp. plans to build a $3 billion coal-to-gas plant that would add even more pollution to one of the nation’s most polluted areas.

Two hurdles remain for the plant to become reality. Gov. Pat Quinn only needs to sign a bill that muscled its way through the General Assembly during the recent lame-duck session. And the state Pollution Control Board must decide whether the owners of the industrial site can sell their permission to pollute to New York-based Leucadia.

With pollution in Cook County above the limits allowed by federal law, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2005 issued an edict: Before more pollution can be added to the air here, a new polluter must first prove that an existing polluter has reduced its emissions.Read more at www.chicagotribune.com
 See this Amp at http://bit.ly/dVpwRS,0,3546953.story

Government Wrong?

Oh no, our government is never wrong. They do all the right things and have the most competent people in the world working at every level of government.
They don’t make mistakes.

Is seafood safe? Scientists raise questions | HoumaToday.com

"A survey of Gulf Coast seafood meal habits released last week by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a national environmental group, found that government seafood-testing programs severely underestimated local’s appetite for seafood.

That may also mean the government is underestimating locals’ risk of exposure to oil pollutants.

Consumption rates are used to set the levels of contamination that can be allowed in food before it is ruled a threat to health. The higher the consumption rate, the more toxins are consumed, so the lower the acceptable level of contamination allowed for a product to be deemed safe.

Particularly when it came to eating shrimp, actual consumption was found to be between three to 12 times higher than the rates the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is using.”