Earlier this week, a research conducted by scientists at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York established that toxic pollutants from contaminated land cause more deaths in developing countries than infectious diseases such as malaria.
The study lead by Dr. Kevin Charham was based on samples collected from various locations in India, Indonesia and the Philippines. The values were estimated in the form of disability-adjusted life years, or in other words the number of healthy years that are lost as a consequence of ill health, disability or early death. The results indicate that around 828,722 years of healthy life were lost due to toxic pollutants, which exceed the impact of malaria in these regions.
Lead and hexavalent chromium were found to be the main cause of lost healthy years, although the authors measured the impact of cadmium, mercury, asbestos and the three most harmful pesticides- DDT, aldrin and lindane. It was established that the social groups most severely impacted by the pollutants are women and children.
The authors claim that this is the first time anyone has tried to quantify the impact of deadly pollutants on human lives in developing regions. There, the problem is strengthened by the limited funds and manpower needed for effective clean up of the contaminated sites.
Chatham-Stephens hopes that these new findings will help governments and policy makers to take appropriate decisions and initiate procedures to clean up the most contaminated areas immediately.