Top 6 Toxic Threats Revealed in New Report

November 12, 2010

A new report released today by two international environmental groups—New York-based Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland—highlights the top six toxic threats to global health. The organizations estimate that these pollutants impact the health of tens of millions of people, primarily children, and that toxic pollution as a whole could cause health risks for more than one hundred million people globally.

The report ranks the pollutants according to the number of people estimated to be at risk from each toxin and describes their physical nature, industries that typically cause their release, common human exposure pathways, and known health effects.

“The health of roughly 100 million people is at risk from pollution in developing countries,” says Richard Fuller, President of Blacksmith Institute. “The six pollutants in this report come up again and again at the sites we evaluate.”

The data analyzed in the report are based on over 1,000 risk assessments conducted by Blacksmith Institute investigators at polluted sites over the past two years. This work is funded in part by Green Cross Switzerland and is carried out in over 40 countries, by more than 150 field investigators.

The health impacts from the Top Six Toxic Threats include physical and mental disabilities, organ dysfunction, neurological disorders, developmental problems for unborn fetuses and children, cancers, and in some cases, death.

These pollutants can weaken the immune system, rendering a person more susceptible to disease. An initial exposure to toxic pollution can be the undocumented cause of later illnesses, such as respiratory infections, tuberculosis, gastrointestinal disorders, and maternal health problems.

Blacksmith Institute uses a risk assessment method based on the US EPA Superfund protocol to assess sites.  The assessment method characterizes three general criteria: pollutant type and amount, pathway to humans, and population at risk.

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3 Responses to “ Top 6 Toxic Threats Revealed in New Report ”

  1. Emm on November 12, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    This ties into a recent report about Lung disease being the number one disease for the world. The online article I read mentioned wood stoves like the ones used in India being a cause of lung disease and indoor pollution. It ties in to this in that, once lungs are irritated by foreign matter, one becomes more susceptible to lung problems. It almost seems like a vicious circle of one problem contributing or exacerbating another.

  2. deenie on November 15, 2010 at 2:38 am

    I think the toxins listed affect far more people (100 to 1000 times more) than the numbers given. I don’t know the methodology used to assess impact. I suspect they used a threshold dose where everything below the threshold is declared “safe”. Therein lies the problem as the thresholds used are likely far too generous to the polluters. Also remember that these are merely the top threats, there are a lot more (thousands). The earth and its inhabitants are being sacrificed because of corporate greed with weak-kneed politicians aiding and abetting.

  3. Dr. Nancy Philips on November 15, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Thanks for informative article. More evidence for the importance of organic foods to reduce our exposure to toxic pesticides.

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