The Guardian, Nov. 16, 2011
Successive governments have found that the simplest way to end urban poverty is to encourage poor people to live near congested roads. Apart from war and fags, nothing is more certain to shorten human life than to make people breathe a daily dose of poisons, especially sooty particles known as PM10s and nitrogen oxides that largely come from traffic and factories. The minute particles of partially burned diesel fuel and tyres travel deep into lungs and the gases trigger respiratory diseases. If you already have heart disease or asthma, then just living near a main road can be a death sentence.
In Britain, the environment audit committee has just produced a shocking report showing that 200,000 people can expect to have their lives shortened by as much as two years and everyone else have theirs curtailed by seven months for just breathing. In London alone, air pollution has been linked to nearly one in five deaths a year. This is in line with the rest of the US and Europe where last week the European Environment Agency [EEA] reported that air pollutants already lead to 500,000 premature deaths a year and are now a bigger killer than passive smoking, road traffic accidents and obesity together.
Treehugger, Dec. 30, 2010
As their native habitat melts, polar bears have been forced into close contact with grizzly bears and humans—both of which have limited the iconic carnivore’s ability to obtain food. This, however, is not the only problem the bears face.
New research has shown that, even in their relatively remote arctic homes, exposure to toxins and chemicals have compounded to make polar bears the most contaminated creatures on the planet.
The problem begins in Europe, Asia, and North America, where industrial and agricultural pollutants are released into the air and water. Ocean and atmospheric currents carry these pollutants north and they eventually settle in the Arctic.
Researchers have found elevated levels of PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and mercury in polar bears.
In one study, the umbilical cord blood of 10 babies had an average of 232 toxic chemicals already present at birth. The greater the concentration of toxic chemicals in the blood, unfortunately, the greater the drop in IQ scores.Today, a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate, the Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxins, and Environmental Health, met in New Jersey to hear about recent studies showing that today’s infants are being born into a more toxic world than ever before. The fact that so many toxic chemicals already exist in infants’ blood when they are born, doesn’t mean that things are going to get better for them.As Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, who testified today at the hearing, put it: “Babies in this country are born ‘pre-polluted.'”