Transboundary Pollution Poses Growing Global Health Threat

January 13th, 2019 - by admin

Business Wire – 2019-01-13 00:51:33

Transboundary Pollution
Poses Growing Global Health Threat

A new report from Pure Earth documents how
the Pollution crisis in low- and middle-income countries
affects everyone’s health, and what we can do to address it.

Business Wire

NEW YORK (Jan. 8, 2019) — Disease-causing toxic pollution is a leading cause of death globally, and harms the health of millions of people, including those who live far from the source of the pollution, according to a new report issued today by the non-profit organization Pure Earth.

The findings of Pollution Knows No Borders, the first comprehensive report to aggregate expert analysis and relevant scientific literature on this topic, will be presented at a briefing today (January 8, 11am) in New York by Richard Fuller, President, Pure Earth; Gina McCarthy, Former US EPA Administrator, and director, Center for Climate Health and the Global Environment, Harvard University; Janez Potocnik, Co-Chair of UN Intl. Resource Panel; Baskut Tuncak, UN Special Rapporteur, and others.

“When it comes to pollution, we are all connected. There is an invisible toxic thread that links workers being poisoned in poorer countries producing products, and consumers exposed to poisons while consuming these products.

Reducing pollution is the right thing to do for children growing up in these countries, and it will also safeguard the health of children in wealthier consumer nations,” says Richard Fuller, President, Pure Earth.

Key Findings:
* Pollution (a global flow of toxins) moves from countries lacking substantive pollution controls to the rest of the world .

Examples include:

* Air pollution — Toxic particles from burning coal in Eastern Europe affect Western Europe. Particles from China form a significant part of air pollution in California.

* Water pollution — Mercury from Asia and Africa ends up in the fish we eat in the US and Europe. Contaminated industrial wastewater in India and China is used to water crops, and affects spices and grains imported into the West.

* Food and Products. Toxins, especially heavy metals, are regularly found in imported products, including sweets and candies, makeup, school supplies and more. Food for toddlers and babies often test above regulatory standards for lead, cadmium and arsenic.

What’s in your chocolates,
pizza, juice, baby cereal and fish?

The US imports 50 to 60% of its fruits and vegetables, and more than 80% of its fish and shellfish, and almost all spices, coffee, cocoa and pet food. Imported food products are an amalgam of ingredients originating in multiple countries. Many products have long supply chains so food ingredients or raw materials in a product may come from many different countries or regions.

While the US, Canada and Europe have banned many toxic chemicals and pesticides, these harmful products continue to be used in factories and in agricultural production in low- and middle-income countries where environmental policies are less stringent. ( Access to interactive map/data visualizations of global food trade flows are available.)

* Independent testing of popular brands of chocolate between 2014 and 2018 found levels of lead and cadmium in 96 of 127 products for sale in US that exceeded California’s maximum allowable dose.

* An analysis of a frozen pizza found that it was made from 35 different ingredients that passed through 60 countries on five different continents.

* Your apple juice may be labeled “Product of Canada” but may have been made with concentrate from China.

* One study found rice teething biscuits and cereal had between 61 and 92 times higher levels of mercury, and nearly ten times more arsenic than products made with wheat/oats.

* Only a small percent of fish is tested for toxins by the US FDA — less than 1/10th of 1 percent. Yet of those tested, often 10 percent are rejected. Similar results occur for vegetables in Europe and elsewhere.

Children are most at risk. There has been a rapid increase in non-communicable diseases among children in recent decades, including diabetes, birth defects, autism spectrum disorder, leukemia, and more, a development that medical experts are calling a “silent epidemic”. Most of those diseases are expected to be the result of environmental exposures.

The solution is to prevent pollution at its source by using cleaner fuels, installing wastewater treatment plants for effluents, using safe production techniques and upgrading toxic informal work practices. These solutions are usually cost effective and often have the added benefit of stemming climate change and improving local economies.

*Read the full press release, access the report and map data visualizations at

ACTION: Demand action by signing a petition urging world leaders to prioritize pollution control at the source, protect children’s health, and increase funding for pollution cleanup.

Angela Bernhardt, Pure Earth
Mag Sim, Pure Earth

About Pure Earth
Pure Earth is an international non-profit organization dedicated to solving pollution problems in low and middle-income countries, where human health is at risk.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.