New Report Lists Top Ten World's Worst Toxic Pollution Problems With A Big
Perhaps the most surprising finding of the 2011 World's Worst Toxic Pollution Problems report released this month by Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland is that contrary to popular belief, large multinational corporations are not the worst pollution problems. Instead, unregulated small-scale operations like artisanal mining and backyard metal recycling have the greatest impact globally in terms of pollution and pubic health.
The Rising Cost of Gold
Perhaps a result of the rising price of gold, artisanal gold mining tops this year's list of worst toxic pollution problems.
About 3.5 million people, including many child miners, are at risk from mercury poisoning. At least a quarter of the world's gold comes from artisanal gold mining, which releases an estimated 1,000 tons of mercury into the atmosphere each year.
"Although corporations are not the biggest pollution problems, ultimately it is the demand for gold and other commodities and consumer goods driven by the economies of high income countries that fuel small scale operations and increase the severity of pollution problems in low income countries," says Bret Ericson, Project Manager for Blacksmith's Global Inventory Project.
Over a Decade of Life Lost
The report also calculates, for the first
time, that toxic pollution shortens the productive lifespan of a person
by an average of 12.7 years for millions living with the worst pollution
This measurement, Disability-Adjusted Life Year or DALY, represents the sum of life years lost and years lived with disability.
Because much of the current research in environmental health focuses only on deaths, many pollution victims are left uncounted by basic mortality statistics. By factoring in disability, the DALY figures provide a clearer picture of the health impacts of toxic pollution.
Data From Thousands of Hotspots
This latest report is based on data collected over the past three years from thousands of hotspots assessed for Blacksmith's global inventory of polluted sites.
Research on this scale has not been done before. The crucial information collected will be used to prioritize cleanup to target communities with the most at-risk populations.
The Top Ten
The 2011 report lists the top ten world's worst toxic pollution problems and sources ranked according to the size of the population at risk.
The Pollution Reports
The 2011 report is the latest in a series of annual reports on the state of pollution in the world. In the past, these reports have raised awareness about the global scope of toxic pollution, and in some cases, have compelled cleanup work at polluted hotspots.
See the current top ten list and all previous reports at www.worstpolluted.org
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