Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Pollution causes 40% of human deaths

Here's a story that deserves wider coverage. About 40 percent of human deaths worldwide are caused by water, air and soil pollution, concludes a Cornell researcher.

This is scary news that deserves front page coverage and rapid follow-up by public health authorities. Is it right? Because if true, it's very, very WRONG.

We who watch ecosystem health have been screaming for years that we have to notice when pollution is killing wild animals, because what we do to them, we do to ourselves. How many more "canaries in the coal mine" stories do we need about poisoned fish, birds, etc.?

Findings from the Cornell University study, led by David Pimentel:
Nearly half the world's people are crowded into urban areas, often without adequate sanitation, and are exposed to epidemics of such diseases as measles and flu.

With 1.2 billion people lacking clean water, waterborne infections account for 80 percent of all infectious diseases.

Air pollution from smoke and various chemicals kills 3 million people a year. In the United States alone about 3 million tons of toxic chemicals are released into the environment -- contributing to cancer, birth defects, immune system defects and many other serious health problems.

Soil is contaminated by many chemicals and pathogens, which are passed on to humans through direct contact or via food and water. Increased soil erosion worldwide not only results in more soil being blown but spreading of disease microbes and various toxins.