Pollution and Waste
pollution: the ticking bomb!
The Ecological Footpint is measuring the ability of the environment to cope with emissions and pollution. It can therefore relate to the air, and especially the CO2 footprint, but also the water footprint.
The Glogal Footprint Network provides detailed information about the science and methodologies related to the Ecological Footprints, and with a page adressing specifically the case for Carbon, Water, Pollutants or Biodiversity.
Pollution and Brain Development
There are mounting evidences of a dramatic increase of mental disorders for kids, such as autism, attention deficit and hyperactivity or others. The exact causes are the topic of a multitude of literature, but pollution of chemicals acting as endocrinal disruptors seem to be a likely candidate.
2 books are adressing this in more details, with:
- Barbara Demeinix, in her book Loosing our minds....., presenting evidences that chemical pollutants are acting as endocrinian disruptors, which can (and seemingly do) have a dramatic impact on the cognitive development of younger generations, with a possible trend in decline if IQ to be seriously considered.
- Philippe Grandjean, presenting similar evidences in his book: Only one chance....,reviewed here, and adressing the brain toxicity of pollutants such as lead, mercury, or fluorides. His websitebraindrainer.dk provides a continuous update as well..
All these evidences call for a much stronger protection of pregnant women and children upto five y.o. , and a much tougher action on banning or removing chemicals with a known, or high level of suspected activity detrimental to the Brain development such as pesticides, solvents or solvents or surfactants.
There are recommendations for practices to mitigate the impact of such endocrinal disruptors: wash hands, go for bio-food (low pesticipes residuals, etc...), available here.
Air Pollution Hazards
for The EU page on clean-air provides a wealth of information on air-pollution, causes and impact, with of course a specific view on Europe.
According to a review-article of the Lancet, Air pollution especially from micro-particles of 2.5m or less, could cause the premature death of 6.5. million people each year, half of it due to in-door pollution. The other half are to a large part due to transportation, i.e. thermal engines, especially the Diesel ones, and in some cases coal/oil combustion, as explained in this overview.
These data are expanded in a review of a model from the WHO with the highest imapct on vulnerable population (women, children) in N-Africa and S.E-Asia, causing cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , lung cancer. orhigher risks for acute respiratory infections. (See the full report here)
We have also evidences that NO2 and small particles of less than 10 microns can be a major health hazard in large citzies. See more on this in this introduction or in this more detailed report on air pollution from The Economist.
Emerging evidences (see this report) on links of air pollution and Alzheimer are mounting, with micro-particles (less than 2.5mu) migrating to the brain, and accelerating oxidative stress.
Additionally, a large cohort study covering over 41000 people, sponsored by the European Society of Cardiology, concluded to clear links of particulate air pollution and Noise level to hypertension, and therefore CVDs.
And part of this damage could be seriously mitigated through a more rigourous legislation, e.g. focoal plants, where far too many plants have the licence to operate far beyond standard norms of emissions.
And negative impacts of air pollution with microparticles that can kill can also be indirectly exported: see this article fromThe Economist: USA and Europe are actually big "exporters" to China by consuming goods manufactured outside of their borders.
No wonder then that in EU and Switzerland, tests for vehicles will be redesigned, so bring measured emissions from cars closer to real use situation.
Management of Water treatment
We throw away about 95% of the 100 bio US $ worth of plastics produced yearly. And this is worsening year after year. In the ocean, we have presently 1 ton of plastic for 3 tons of fish. In the business as usual scenario, it will be 1ton of plastic for 1 ton of fish by 2050, according to DW. Plastics degrade into small particles, and end up in the food chain. But this is certainly not what we mean by recycling!
The costs associated with plastic waste is estimated at 40 bio US$ per year. So something has to be done, and a lot can be done, as explained in the WEF report on the New Plastics Economy, such as drastically improving the recycling process, developing biodegradable plastics, adopting compostable plastic packaging, or increasing incentives for recycling (see taxes and circular economy)
The urgency for action is clear, but will take several intervention policies, as depicted in this report on Marine Litters of the GPA, describing in details the mechanisms and the impact of Marine Littering.
Dealing with Solid Waste
Solutions for a responsible management of solid waste and waste disposal. Recycling, re-use, reduce!