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Hanrahan D.,Blacksmith Initiative | Ericson B.,Blacksmith Institute | Caravanos J.,Blacksmith Institute | Caravanos J.,City University of New York
Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Civil Engineering | Year: 2015

Millions of people worldwide are suffering health risks as a result of living near highly contaminated sites including abandoned industrial and mining sites, and polluting artisanal areas. More than 3000 sites across 50 developing countries have been identified. Nearly 100 million people are at risk at just these sites. The main impact falls on people in low- and middle-income countries, with children being particularly vulnerable. Interventions have been implemented at about 100 of these sites, with significant success in reducing impacts. This paper aims to draw the attention of practising engineers to the scale and impacts of the problem and to encourage expanded efforts to implement cost-effective solutions. Tackling contaminated sites is part of broader efforts under the umbrella of the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution to reduce environmental pollution, which is one of the largest contributors to the burden of disease worldwide. Clean-up is required but prevention of pollution must also be a high priority. © 2015, ICE Publishing. All rights reserved. Source


Laborde A.,University of the Republic of Uruguay | Tomasina F.,University of the Republic of Uruguay | Bianchi F.,National Research Council Italy | Brune M.-N.,World Health Organization | And 14 more authors.
Environmental Health Perspectives | Year: 2015

Background: Chronic diseases are increasing among children in Latin America. Objective and Methods: To examine environmental risk factors for chronic disease in Latin American children and to develop a strategic initiative for control of these exposures, the World Health Organization (WHO) including the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Collegium Ramazzini, and Latin American scientists reviewed regional and relevant global data. results: Industrial development and urbanization are proceeding rapidly in Latin America, and environmental pollution has become widespread. Environmental threats to children’s health include traditional hazards such as indoor air pollution and drinking-water contamination; the newer hazards of urban air pollution; toxic chemicals such as lead, asbestos, mercury, arsenic, and pesticides; hazardous and electronic waste; and climate change. Te mix of traditional and modern hazards varies greatly across and within countries refecting industrialization, urbanization, and socioeconomic forces. conclusions: To control environmental threats to children’s health in Latin America, WHO, including PAHO, will focus on the most highly prevalent and serious hazards—indoor and outdoor air pollution, water pollution, and toxic chemicals. Strategies for controlling these hazards include developing tracking data on regional trends in children’s environmental health (CEH), building a network of Collaborating Centres, promoting biomedical research in CEH, building regional capacity, supporting development of evidence-based prevention policies, studying the economic costs of chronic diseases in children, and developing platforms for dialogue with relevant stakeholders. © 2015 Public Health Services, US Dept of Health and Human Services. All Rights Reserved. Source


Caravanos J.,CUNY - Hunter College | Chatham-Stephens K.,Mount Sinai School of Medicine | Ericson B.,Blacksmith Institute | Landrigan P.J.,Mount Sinai School of Medicine | Fuller R.,Blacksmith Institute
Environmental Research | Year: 2013

Identification and systematic assessment of hazardous wastes sites in low and middle-income countries has lagged. Hazardous waste problems are especially severe in lower income Asian countries where environmental regulations are non-existent, nonspecific or poorly enforced. In these countries extensive unregulated industrial development has created waste sites in densely populated urban areas. These sites appear to pose significant risks to public health, and especially to the health of children.To assess potential health risks from chemical contamination at hazardous waste sites in Asia, we assessed 679 sites. A total of 169 sites in 7 countries were classified as contaminated by lead. Eighty-two of these sites contained lead at levels high enough to produce elevated blood lead levels in surrounding populations.To estimate the burden of pediatric lead poisoning associated with exposure to lead in soil and water at these 82 lead-contaminated sites, we used standard toxicokinetic models that relate levels of lead in soil and water to blood lead levels in children. We calculated blood lead levels, and we quantified losses of intelligence (reductions in IQ scores) that were attributable to lead exposure at these sites.We found that 189,725 children in the 7 countries are at risk of diminished intelligence as a consequence of exposure to elevated levels of lead in water and soil at hazardous waste sites. Depending on choice of model, these decrements ranged from 4.94 to 14.96 IQ points. Given the restricted scope of this survey and the conservative estimation procedures employed, this number is almost certainly an underestimate of the full burden of disease.Exposure to toxic chemicals from hazardous waste sites is an important and heretofore insufficiently examined contributor to the Global Burden of Disease. © 2012 Elsevier Inc. Source


Chatham-Stephens K.,Mount Sinai School of Medicine | Caravanos J.,City College of New York | Caravanos J.,Blacksmith Institute | Ericson B.,Blacksmith Institute | And 6 more authors.
Environmental Health Perspectives | Year: 2013

Background: Prior calculations of the burden of disease from toxic exposures have not included estimates of the burden from toxic waste sites due to the absence of exposure data. Objective: We developed a disability-adjusted life year (DALY)-based estimate of the disease burden attributable to toxic waste sites. We focused on three low- and middle-income countries (LMICs): India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Methods: Sites were identified through the Blacksmith Institute's Toxic Sites Identification Program, a global effort to identify waste sites in LMICs. At least one of eight toxic chemicals was sampled in environmental media at each site, and the population at risk estimated. By combining estimates of disease incidence from these exposures with population data, we calculated the DALYs attributable to exposures at each site. Results: We estimated that in 2010, 8,629,750 persons were at risk of exposure to industrial pollutants at 373 toxic waste sites in the three countries, and that these exposures resulted in 828,722 DALYs, with a range of 814,934-1,557,121 DALYs, depending on the weighting factor used. This disease burden is comparable to estimated burdens for outdoor air pollution (1,448,612 DALYs) and malaria (725,000 DALYs) in these countries. Lead and hexavalent chromium collectively accounted for 99.2% of the total DALYs for the chemicals evaluated. Conclusions: Toxic waste sites are responsible for a significant burden of disease in LMICs. Although some factors, such as unidentified and unscreened sites, may cause our estimate to be an underestimate of the actual burden of disease, other factors, such as extrapolation of environmental sampling to the entire exposed population, may result in an overestimate of the burden of disease attributable to these sites. Toxic waste sites are a major, and heretofore underrecognized, global health problem. Source


Ericson B.,Blacksmith Institute | Caravanos J.,City College of New York | Caravanos J.,Blacksmith Institute | Chatham-Stephens K.,Mount Sinai School of Medicine | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment | Year: 2013

In the developing world, environmental chemical exposures due to hazardous waste sites are poorly documented. We describe the approach taken by the Blacksmith Institute's Toxic Sites Identification Program in documenting environmental chemical exposures due to hazardous waste sites globally, identifying sites of concern and quantifying pathways, populations, and severity of exposure. A network of local environmental investigators was identified and trained to conduct hazardous waste site investigations and assessments. To date, 2,095 contaminated sites have been identified within 47 countries having an estimated population at risk of 71,500,000. Trained researchers and investigators have visited 1,400 of those sites. Heavy metals are the leading primary exposures, with water supply and ambient air being the primary routes of exposure. Even though chemical production has occurred largely in the developed world to date, many hazardous waste sites in the developing world pose significant hazards to the health of large portions of the population. Further research is needed to quantify potential health and economic consequences and identify cost-effective approaches to remediation. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Source

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