Our effort to expand research and understanding about toxic pollution continues this month with three papers published in the prestigious Annals of Global Health, formerly known as The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine (Volume 80, Issue 4, p245-344, e1-e11 July–August 2014).
Environmental pollution is the main cause of disease and death in the developing world. In 2012, exposures to polluted soil, water, and air resulted in an estimated 8.4 million deaths worldwide. By comparison, HIV/AIDS is responsible for 1.5 million deaths annually and malaria and tuberculosis less than 1 million each. More than 1 in 7 deaths globally are the result of environmental pollution.
- Blood Lead Levels in Mexico and Pediatric Burden of Disease Implications
- Niveles de Plomo en Sangre en México y su Implicación para la Carga Pediátrica de la Enfermedad
This key paper is available in English and Spanish. It is an extensive historical review and analysis of 83 published articles from 1978 to 2010 containing available data on blood lead levels from more than 50,000 participants. Using this data, researchers calculated a geometric mean to evaluate the effect of lead on the pediatric burden of disease.
The results indicate that more than 15% of the population will experience a decrement of more than 5 IQ points from lead exposure. The analysis also leads researchers to believe that lead is responsible for 820,000 disability-adjusted life-years for lead-induced mild mental retardation for children aged 0 to 4 years.
- A Simplified Risk-Ranking System for Prioritizing Toxic Pollution Sites in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), chemical exposures in the environment due to hazardous waste sites and toxic pollutants are typically poorly documented and their health impacts insufficiently quantified. Furthermore, there often is only limited understanding of the health and environmental consequences of point source pollution problems, and little consensus on how to assess and rank them. The contributions of toxic environmental exposures to the global burden of disease are not well characterized.
This study describes the simple but effective approach taken by Blacksmith Institute’s Toxic Sites Identification Program to quantify and rank toxic exposures in LMICs. This system is already in use at more than 3000 sites in 48 countries such as India, Indonesia, China, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine.