Friday, 10 May 2013


a public health threat

The Blacksmith Institute/GreenCross researchers report that in 2013/14 they identified 3000 sites of critical pollution, in 70 countries. They estimated that more than 200 million people globally are affected by toxic chemicals.
In their latest surveys they want to analyse the health effects of pollution.
Toxic pollution is a public health threat that causes respiratory diseases; cardiac problems; skin damage; cancers.
Exposure to Toxic pollution damages children most in situations when the open spaces and open ground are subject to particles of  lead, mercury; nuclear particles, phenols, manganese, zinc; and smoke, sulphuric acid.
When they are at play, the children are being poisoned.

The Blacksmith  Institute  identified the Most  Polluted Sites

Ghana: Agbogbloshie……… e-waste dump where the cables of the electrical appliances are burnt to recover the metals inside  with resultant lead poisoning, and smoke pollution. 250000 people live in the area and are subject to pollution diseases.

Ukraine: Chernobyl…………...the site of a major release of  nuclear radiation, affecting up to 400 million people across Russia, Europe, Arabia, China. The 20 km exclusion zone remains empty.

Indonesia: Citarum River Basin ……….. where the local mining and smelting activities poison the river with lead, manganese, zinc. The polluted river is used as the source of drinking water by up to 9 million people. Many of them will suffer diarrhea and vomiting.

Russia: Dzerhinsk………….site of largest chemical works producing many tons of chemical waste, including dioxins and phenols, leading to water/soil/air pollution. The lungs and organs of the local populations are so polluted that life expectancy is less than 50 years.It is identified as  the most polluted city in the world

Bangladesh: Hazaribagh……..this site is well known as the base of leather making and the operation of tanneries. The work involves the use and pollution of water supplies; as well as the poisoning of air by unfiltered smoke. 250000 people live and work in the area

Zambia:Kabwe…………The copperbelt has been the site of mining and smelting copper/lead/gold for 100 years with the poisoning of the air, the ground. the soil,  the water and the workers.

Indonesia: Kalimantan…...many of the local people, up  to 43000,  spend time mining and smelting gold.
The processes involve the use of mercury which poisons the workers, their families, the air, the river waters, the soil. All efforts to stop this work have failed, simply because the gold is a major source of income.

Argentina: Matanza Riachuelo…….The river basin houses many factories making chemicals, and lead and zinc. The factories drain their waste into the river, which is drunk by the local residents all the way to Buenos Aires.

Nigeria: Niger River Delta………...Nigeria has been the source of oil for many years.One of the principal drilling zones is the Niger River delta. As elsewhere, oil spillages are common place, polluting the river water, ground water, the soil. The extensive population of the Delta takes its drinking water from the polluted river and suffer the consequences.

Russia: Norilsk………this is the site of a large and complex metal smelting zone. The processes eject  huge quantities of copper, nickel, sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere and constitute a public health threat to all the 130,000 inhabitants who suffer respiratory diseases, as well as a wide range of cancers.

Traffic pollution

In the UK there is an Environment Committee of Parliament. They have recently issued a report stating that air pollution kills 29,000 people per year. The committee asserts that  the air pollution is generated by traffic emissions. Traffic exhausts emit ammonia, nitrogen, sulphur dioxide.
Their research has indicated that the most polluted areas  are traffic junctions/traffic lights/ all points where traffic ‘idles’ generating exhaust fumes.
They have discovered  that children are most affected by traffic pollution. In particular, schools that are near points of   greatest traffic pollution find that their pupils suffer from respiratory problems, lung cancers.
The Committee is concerned to encourage the Government  to actively support the production of low emission vehicles.
They have rejected the previous promotion of diesel engines on the grounds of recent research findings that ‘diesel’ produces excessive traffic pollution, smoke and  exhaust fumes. The committee is attempting to persuade the Departments of Transport to fit more efficient exhaust systems to buses, lorries, and cars. Of course, the design of new engines and exhausts will take several years. It is highly likely that drivers who don’t want to pay will keep their old, unregulated vehicles.

As the oil companies prepare for the exhaustion of many oil fields, they have taken to Fracking. This involves the injection of water into the layers of rock that house the oils and gas which  flow under pressure along  the drill pipes to be captured at the well head. The residual oil and gas has been found in sands and shales in  sedimentary basins across the world.. The prospects of income from the new sources of hydro-carbons has been too great for many governments. For example, the refusal of local authorities in the UK to licence ‘fracking’, has been ignored by the Prime Minister,and his cabinet, The PM has adopted the policy of allowing oil companies  to search and exploit oil shales and sands in return for the payment of licence fees.
Politicians have adopted the arguments that ‘fracking’ does not pollute the environment. Such a view is contrary to all the evidence.
In the first place, ‘fracking’ requires a huge volume of water for each well and operates  in direct competition with farmers, and local fresh water supplies.  Fracking takes the clean water from rivers and groundwaters, mixes it with chemicals, and injects it into the shales and sands.  The waters return to the surface polluted by hydro-carbons, and chemicals. The waste water is toxic and cannot be returned to the rivers and reservoirs but has to be stored in waste wells. Unlike many other processes fracking deprives the local communities of water. In areas where there is a shortage of water this can have serious consequences.and impacts for the health of the residents.
Secondly, the processes of injection releases methane and carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and creates ozone smogs,  and pollutes the air to form a public health threat .In many cases the well heads are new and require new roads and the transport of water, oil, gas by many lorries. The traffic pollution is intense and localised.
Contrary to the announcements by politicians,
‘Fracking’ pollutes drinking water, ground water, as well as surface waters.
Fracking pollutes air..
Fracking is a public health threat!
Fracking destroys the natural environment.
In many areas, the fracking wells are set up in rural landscapes, and forest lands. Each well requires a specific amount of land to be prepared and flattened for the equipment, and the pipelines. Roads have to be laid out to enable the constant flow of traffic. Forests are cleared. In these areas, and the wild life is so disturbed that they disappear, die, migrate.
In the USA where many fracking wells have been developed in forests,as in Pennsylvania;  the natural landscapes have been turned into ‘industrial wastelands’  
Fracking damages the ‘natural heritage’ of whole landscapes.
Politicians, whether State Governors; Prime ministers; or Presidents are persuaded by the prospects of new oil incomes to support and sponsor ‘fracking’.

UK House of Commons; Environmental Audit Committee. 2014
Environment AMERICA Research Group: Fracking by Numbers

Pollution of the biosphere arises from the actions of humans and other ecological communities.
Pollution of the biosphere is the result of choices made by human communities.
The pollution of the land, sea, water, air is caused by a multitude of toxic matter generated by human activity.
In fact, it seems that global pollution is the inevitable result of all the industrial, mining, manufacturing processes of human societies and the use of specific matter. Pollution is caused by....................

The overuse of fossil fuels including gas and oil and the use of diesel, which comprises 40 toxic chemicals.
Formaldehyde as used in pesticides, insulation, disinfectants.
The creation of particulate matter such as soot, which leads to the formation of smog.
Benzene as used in motor fuel, solvents, detergents, pesticides.
Ozone as formed from nitrogen oxide in reaction to sunlight.
Radioactive fallout and contamination from nuclear bombs and nuclear generators.
The noise of industrial plants, motors, as well as events using loudspeakers.
Oil pollution from oil tankers such as Amoco Cadiz; and oil wells, such as Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.
The manufacture of plastics, and the creation of chemical sludge.
The dispersal of litter.
The presence of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, chloroflourocarbons.
May 11 2013: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the USA announced that their observation stations in Hawaii, and the South Pole had measured carbon dioxide at 400ppm for the first time. These readings indicated that CO2, the greenhouse gas, had increased from 315ppm in 1958. The link between emissions and human behaviour indicates that temperatures are on the increase, and climate change is in progress.

Hydrocarbons, heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides, chlorinated hydrocarbons, and soil contamination.
Untreated sewage, and wastewater.
Toxic pollution arising from the mining of lead, mercury, chromium, arsenic, and the manufacture of pesticides.
There are a range of activities that directly lead to toxic pollution problems.
Battery recycling involves handling plastic, lead, sulphuric acid, and chemical sludge resulting in water poisoning and human allergies.
Lead smelting, metal casting, uranium processing, if not done carefully causes local pollution and poisoning.
Coal mining and coal generating plants create soot and smog and directly pollute the atmosphere.
Tanneries use leather, dyes, water, chemicals, and pollute local waterways.
Electronic waste recycling is a modern process that tries to handle plastics, lead, tin, chromium and dispose of televisions, computers, mobile phones, laptops, games consoles, all of which are indestructible!
Municipal dumps are designed to dispose of food waste and solid wastes so as to prevent the spread of litter.
It would seem inevitable that large areas of the globe are polluted, simply because human societies are busy carrying out activities that result in pollution. If we are to limit and reduce pollution, we must alter the ways in which we behave!

The Blacksmith Institute, New York, has identified the most polluted places in the world: 2012

China/LINFEN, smog from soot;

Dominica/HAINA, lead contamination;

India/ RANIPET, chromium poisoning of water;

Kyrgyzstan/MAILU-SUU, radioactive poisoning;

Peru/LA OROYA, lead poisoning;

Russia/DZERZINSK, chemical poisoning;

Russia/NORILSK, heavy metal smelting pollution;

Russia/RUDNAYA PRISTAN, lead poisoning;

Ukraine/CHERNOBYL, nuclear poisoning;

Zambia/KABWE, lead poisoning;

Azerbiajan/SUMGAYIT, chemical poisoning;

China/TIANYING, lead poisoning;

India/SUKINDA, chromium poisoning.

The increase in the global population to over 7 billion, and the continuing rise in urban populations in association with motor transport and motor fuels, has given rise to major air pollution events, and the poisoning of thousands of people from the smog of London in 1952; New York and Los Angeles in the 1960s; to Beijing in 2012. The smog results from the effects of soot, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, methane, and sometimes sulphur dioxide.

Since World War 2 there have been nuclear pollution events, starting from the bombs dropped on Japan by the US. In fact, there have been a number of nuclear meltdowns in Japan : including Tokai 1999; Kansai 2004; Fukushima 2011. However, the first events were in Chalk River, Canada 1952 ; Windscale in UK 1957. Three Mile Island in 1979 in the USA. The most notorious was in Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986, which remains the most toxic site today. In 1993 the Tomsk complex had a nuclear meltdown in Siberia.

Today, oil pollution is the most common. It results from accidents between tankers, or due to storms, or leakage from oil wells.
1976, Argo Oil Merchant was broken in Massachusetts.
In 1978, the Amoco Cadiz was blown ashore in Brittany.
1979, witnessed Trinidad and Tobago polluted by the Atlantic Empress; and the Burmah Agate collided with others in Galveston; an oil well broke in the Gulf of Mexico.
In 1989, the Exxon Valdez lost its cargo on the shores of Alaska.
In 1991 there was an act of military vandalism when the Iraqi forces set alight to the oil fields of Kuwait.
Three tankers collided in Tampa Bay Florida in 1993.
Spain experienced the grounding of the Prestige oil tanker on the Galicia islands 2002. There was an oil spill off the coast of Queensland 2009.
We have all witnessed the biggest oil spill ever recorded, with the explosion of the BP Deep Water Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico 2011, and the subsequent court actions carried out by the Gulf States leading to the award of $ billions in damages.

It is notable that these major pollution events have all occurred following the development of globalization, and the operation of multi-national corporations. They mark an inability on the part of the corporations to recognize the causes, and the patterns of pollution. The same mistakes are made across time and space!
The Blacksmith Institute observes that these pollution events are not only destroying the natural environment, but also contributing to the continuous ill health of the population

SOURCES: / Pollution Report 2012: Blacksmith Institute/Green Cross. /Tucson Arizona

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