A new study from Dr. Philip Landrigan and our friends at Boston College links widespread pollution of our oceans to a multitude of diseases, increasing susceptibility to COVID-19 and future pandemics, contamination of seafood we all consume, and more.
“What we’ve come to realize is that ocean pollution is a very complicated mix of many different things… beneath the plastic, there are a whole series of other pollutants that are invisibly making the oceans less safe and coming back and hurting human health.”
“Think of them as little Trojan horses that carry with them carcinogens, flame retardants [and] chemicals that can interfere with endocrine signaling. And when those chemicals get into the human body, they are so small that they can travel through the bloodstream to reach every organ of the body and push up the risk of a number of diseases.”
What’s especially interesting is that the paper reveals: “More than 80% (of the pollution) arises from land-based sources. It reaches the oceans through rivers, runoff, atmospheric deposition and direct discharges.”
This confirms what we already know. That pollution knows no borders. Pollutants like mercury, for example, which is released in large amounts as a result of artisanal gold mining activity around the world, contaminates seafood that end up on dinner tables far from mining sites. And food grown in polluted water by poor famers enter the global food chain as well.
One solution? We have to identify and clean up toxic pollution where we find it.
Our Toxic Sites Identification Program has already identified nearly 5000 toxic sites in over 50 countries, and we have addressed toxic pollution in over 120 project locations through assessment, remediation, risk mitigation and more. These projects have impacted approximately 5 million people – 20% of those being children under six.
Read the paper, Human Health and Ocean Pollution, in the Annals of Global Health.