The state of Michigan has reached a settlement with the victims of the Flint water crisis. Michigan agreed to pay $600 million, which will primarily benefit the city's children since they were most affected by the lead-tainted water, The Washington Post reported.
- What You Need to Know About the Flint Water Crisis - EcoWatch ›
- Public Health Emergency Declared in Flint, Michigan Due to Lead ... ›
- Michael Moore: 10 Things They Won't Tell You About the Flint Water ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday that she will attempt to dismantle the National Rifle Association (NRA), arguing that years of corruption and mismanagement warrant the dissolution of the activist organization, as CNN reported.
- Researchers Are Creating a Drone to Study Wild Dolphins With Help ... ›
- These Whales Are Suffering a Slow-Motion Extinction - EcoWatch ›
Childhood lead poisoning is a long-recognized health hazard that has severely negative consequences for the developing brain. A new first-of-its-kind study reveals that lead poisoning is a global problem, affecting far more children than previously thought. The researchers estimate that roughly 800 million children worldwide, or one out of three, suffer from lead poisoning, according to The New York Times.
Children with a blood lead level above 5 micrograms per deciliter need immediate treatment to prevent life-long consequences from the powerful neurotoxin. The report, The Toxic Truth: Children's exposure to lead pollution undermines a generation of potential, says that the bulk of affected children live in South Asia. India is one of the worst affected countries, where more than 275 million children have dangerously high lead levels in their blood, the BBC reported.
"With few early symptoms, lead silently wreaks havoc on children's health and development, with possibly fatal consequences," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore in a UN statement. "Knowing how widespread lead pollution is – and understanding the destruction it causes to individual lives and communities – must inspire urgent action to protect children once and for all."
Childhood lead exposure has been linked to behavioral problems. It can also eventually lead to kidney damage and cardiovascular conditions, according to Agence-France Presse (AFP). Lead poisoning is estimated to cost low- and middle-income countries almost $1 trillion over children's lifetimes, AFP reported.
The study showed lead poisoning is a major problem in developing South Asian countries since environmental safeguards have not yet been put in place or are poorly enforced. That means that lead in dust and fumes from smelters, fires, car batteries, old peeling paint and water pipes, electronics junkyards, and even cosmetics and lead-infused spices pose an enormous risk to the mental and physical development of a generation of children, The New York Times reported.
"The unequivocal conclusion of this research is that children around the world are being poisoned by lead on a massive and previously unrecognized scale," the study found.
The study also discovered that nearly one million adults die prematurely every year because of lead exposure.
The report's authors say that vehicle batteries are the prime culprit of lead exposure. They based their findings on data from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, which obtained blood test results from tens of thousands of children around the world, the BBC reported.
"Vehicles in low and middle-income countries have tripled since 2000 and that has led to a graphic rise in lead acid battery recycling, often in an unsafe way," Dr. Nicholas Rees, one of the report's authors, told the BBC.
The BBC reported that about 85 percent of the world's lead goes into producing lead-acid batteries, with the vast majority coming from recycled car batteries.
"As a result, as much as half of the used lead-acid batteries end up in the informal economy," the report found, according to the BBC. "Unregulated and often illegal recycling operations break open battery cases, spilling acid and lead dust onto the ground, and [there is] smelt lead in open-air furnaces that spew toxic fumes and dust that contaminate surrounding neighborhoods."
However, lead poisoning is rare in more developed countries, suggesting that the problem is solvable with decisive action.
"The good news is that lead can be recycled safely without exposing workers, their children and surrounding neighborhoods," said Richard Fuller, president of Pure Earth, the AFP reported. "People can be educated about the dangers of lead and empowered to protect themselves and their children."
He added that the economic and social returns in reducing lead pollution could be enormous.
"Improved health, increased productivity, higher IQs, less violence, and brighter futures for millions of children across the planet," said Fuller, according to the AFP.
"Emissions from pyrotechnic displays are composed of numerous organic compounds as well as metals," a new study reports. Nodar Chernishev / EyeEm / Getty Images
Fireworks have taken a lot of heat recently. In South Dakota, fire experts have said President Trump's plan to hold a fireworks show is dangerous and public health experts have criticized the lack of plans to enforce mask wearing or social distancing. Now, a new study shows that shooting off fireworks at home may expose you and your family to dangerous levels of lead, copper and other toxins.
- No Social Distancing or Mask Requirement at Trump's Mt ... ›
- Trump's Fireworks Show at Mt. Rushmore Is a Dangerous Idea, Fire ... ›
By Ben Knight
Reports that the new coronavirus is disproportionately killing African Americans in the United States are no surprise to the country's public health researchers. Numerous examples, from polluted water in Flint, Michigan, to parasites like hookworm in Alabama, have long shown that African Americans are more exposed to environmental dangers and ill-health than white Americans.
But a study into one of the most enduring of these threats — lead poisoning among children —provides a new measure of what many say is the toxic effect of systematic racism in the US.
The Danger of Being African American<p>Statistically, the increased risk of lead poisoning associated with being black persists even when you correct for all other factors, from poverty to education levels to the presence of smokers in the home, to quality of housing.</p><p>"A lot of people had been saying: 'oh black children are just more at risk because they're more likely to be poor,'" said study co-author Deniz "Dersim" Yeter, an independent academic and undergraduate nursing student in Kansas. "Yeah, poverty's a problem, but it's nothing compared to being a black child in America."</p><p>Yeter was "astounded" by the results of their three-year analysis. "I knew it was bad, but I was expecting something like a marginal increase, something statistically significant, but ... not two to six times higher," they told DW. "That is obscene."</p><p>The study includes some surprising conclusions: The social condition of being African American is a bigger risk than living in an old house. In other words, black children living in buildings built between 1950-1977 are six times more likely to have elevated levels of lead in their blood than white children living in a building of that era.</p><p>That date is important. The US began putting restrictions on the lead content of paint in 1977. But leaded paint was never systematically removed from old buildings, and the US Department of Housing estimates that over 3.6 million homes housing children still contain lead hazards.</p><p>"It's so bad," Yeter said. "It deteriorates, it's little pieces of dust, you inhale it, kids touch stuff, touch their mouths, absorb it. [Before the 1950s] it used to be so bad that kids would go into seizures, go to the hospital and die, because there was so much lead in their blood."</p>
The Consequences of 'Redlining'<p>The figures Yeter unearthed aren't surprising to community workers in areas where lead poisoning is just one of many health hazards that African Americans face.</p><p>"You just have look around you," said Kinzer Pointer, pastor and health campaigner in an overwhelmingly African-American community in Buffalo, New York, a city where most of the housing is older than 1978 and 40% of children tested in 2016 had an elevated blood lead level.</p><p>Buffalo is a prime example of the effects of "redlining" — the exclusion of minorities in the US from everything from insurance, to grocery stores — which offers a clue to how racism leads to poor health. </p><p>Pointer said that in the neighborhood he serves, the nearest supermarket selling fresh fruit and vegetables is over five miles away, and 60% of people don't own their own transport. "People live on fast food," he said.</p>
The 'Color-Blind' Failure<p>David Rosner, co-author of the 2014 book Lead Wars, which traces the post-war history of lead poisoning, said racism has always been part of why lead poisoning has been tolerated.</p><p>As he explained, after the war, the Lead Industries Association even tried to blame black parents for letting their children eat paint: One 1956 letter showed the LIA arguing to government that lead poisoning was a problem of "educating the parents, but most of the cases are in Negro and Puerto Rican families, and how does one tackle that job?" </p><p>With their study, Yeter wants to show that hidden, structural racism can be just as dangerous, and that "color-blind" public health screening only exacerbates the problem. </p><p>Currently, blood lead screening is recommended (by organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics) when children live in old buildings or belong to a certain economic class. Yeter says not addressing race too, blinds authorities to the endemic discrimination. </p><p>"If you're ignoring black race as a leading risk factor — you're leaving so many black kids at far greater risk out of the local, state, and federal response." He added: "To act like there's no politics behind people being at risk, or what causes that, or how to solve that... it's political!"</p>
- How Residents of South LA Are Tackling Environmental Racism ... ›
- First-of-Its-Kind Study Finds Racial Gap Between Who Causes Air ... ›
- Flint Water Crisis Keeps Getting Bigger and More Shocking Each Day ›
- 15 EcoWatch Stories on Environmental and Racial Injustice ›
- Fighting Climate Change Is a Social Justice Issue Too - EcoWatch ›
- Lead Poisoning Affects One in Three Children Worldwide - EcoWatch ›
Under an agreement negotiated by community groups — represented by NRDC and the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project — the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will remove thousands of lead water pipes by 2026 in order to address the chronically high lead levels in the city's drinking water and protect residents' health.
America's national bird is threatened by hunters. Not that hunters are taking aim at the iconic bald eagle, but bald eagles are dying after eating lead bullets, as CNN reported.
- 5 Essential Reads on Endangered Species - EcoWatch ›
- New Farm Bill Contains Sneak Attack on the Environment With Toxic ... ›
- Bald Eagle Nest Spotted in Cape Cod for First Time Since 1905 - EcoWatch ›
New research has found that soot dating back to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution made its way across Europe to settle on the top of the Himalayas, according to a new study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
- Living in Hope and Fear Beside India's Retreating Himalayan Glaciers ›
- Scientists Find Plants Are Growing Higher up the Himalayas ... ›
A women fills a water bottle with a filter from an alpine lake in the mountains around Pemberton, British Columbia, Canada. Canada is on the front lines of rapid climate changes that affect the water cycle. Ben Girardi / Aurora Photos / Getty Images
By Corinne Schuster-Wallace, Robert Sandford and Stephanie Merrill
In recent years, the daily news has been flooded with stories of water woes from coast to coast to coast.
Canada's water opportunities and challenges. Global Water Futures
- 15 Canadian Kids Sue Government Over Climate Crisis - EcoWatch ›
- Why Defending Indigenous Rights Is Integral to Fighting Climate ... ›
By Laura Sear and Leslie Steed (Arica, Chile)
Arica is a dusty, windswept port city in northern Chile. Tourists wander the city's long seafront under the shadow of a dramatic buff-colored cliff called El Morro. But the bracing sea air belies a toxic controversy that has bounced from court to court, from Chile to Sweden, in vain search of resolution.
Today, the waste is walled off but still exposed to the elements, just five minutes' walk from the nearest social housing.
The waste is now just outside the impoverished Cerro Chuno neighborhood of Arica, where most residents are migrants.
The climate crisis has put at least 945 designated toxic waste sites at severe risk of disaster from escalating wildfires, floods, rising seas and other climate-related disasters, according to a new study from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), as the AP reported.