It’s extremely difficult to estimate the health impacts from many thousands of toxic sites contaminated with lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium and obsolete pesticides, Caravanos told IPS.
But the one-million death estimate is likely a gross underestimate since investigations into the scope of the problem have only just started. ‘We’ve recently found sites filled with obsolete pesticides in Eastern Europe that have some very toxic chemicals,’ he said.
These chemicals don’t stay put. Rain washes them into soils and waterways, and wind blows toxic particles long distances, sometimes coating crops and food, Caravanos said. A 2012 study by Blacksmith estimated that mining waste, lead smelters, industrial dumps and other toxic sites affect the health of 125 million people in 49 developing countries.’
We have identified over 200 places with contaminated air, soil or water that are putting at risk some six million people,’ said John Pwamang of the Ghana Environment Protection Agency.’
These include places with lead poisoning from recycling used lead-acid or car batteries, and e-waste dismantling areas, where cables are burnt in the open air and the toxic smoke poisons whole neighbourhoods,’ Pwamang said in a release.
A growing body of scientific evidence is revealing an astonishing array of illnesses, including cancers, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, ADHD, autism, Alzheimer’s and depression, with links to the ever-increasing amount of toxic chemicals in our bodies, said Julian Cribb, author of the new book Poisoned Planet: How Constant Exposure to Man-Made Chemicals Is Putting Your Life at Risk.’
There are at least 143,000 man-made chemicals plus an equally vast number of unintentional chemicals liberated by mining, burning fossil fuels, waste disposal,’ Cribb said in a release.’
Around 1,000 new industrial chemicals are released every year, which the United Nations says are largely untested for human and environment health and safety.’