Posts filed under ‘Health’

12 Of The World’s Most Polluted Cities

A list of some of the world’s most polluted cities, careless treatment of the environment has led to these cities being next to uninhabitable (without adverse health effects). The cities on this list are not placed in any specific order, and this list is not about the world’s top 12 most polluted cities. Quick fact: Judging by air quality 16 out of 20 of the world’s most polluted cities are in China.

Haina, Dominican Republic

Number Affected: 84,700

Haina,also known as Bajos de Haina, is often called “The Dominican Chernobyl”. The city is home to a closed automobile battery recycling smelter, and nearly everyone in Haina suffers from lead poisoning. Some experts have claimed this city is the site of the highest levels of lead contamination in the world. The majority of the citizens have nine to ten times more lead in their blood than what is deemed safe by the EPA. The source of the contamination is believed to be the old factory,the factory has since moved to a different area, however the damage has already been done.

Blacksmith Institute

La Oroya,Peru

Number Affected: 30,000

The smelter in La Oroya hires more people in town than any other business, each year it produces 70,000 tonnes of copper,122,000 tonnes of lead and 45,000 tonnes of zinc. However the smelter has left the town dangerously polluted. How bad is the problem? Many people in this town are dying from lead poisoning,the very air they breathe is toxic. Residents of the town say that they have to stay inside some days because they air is so heavy it is impossible to breathe. A study conducted in 1999 showed that the town had extremely high levels of pollution with 85 times more arsenic,41 times more cadmium and 13 times more lead than is generally considered safe to breathe. The majority of children under six suffer from toxic levels of lead in their blood six times higher than the maximum safe limit as set by the World Health Organization (10 micrograms).Many of the same children have also been diagnosed with dangerous levels of other toxins such as:cadmium,arsenic, and mercury. Surprisingly despite all of this the residents in the town don’t want the smelter shut down because it provides jobs.

Linfen,China

Number Affected: 4,000,000+

Linfen China is generally considered to be the world’s most polluted city, a choking cloud of dust and smoke covers the city at all times. Linfen is one of China’s leading coal producers, and coal production is blamed for the city’s pollution. Residents say if clothes were left outside to dry, when you return to take the clothes down, they will be black. Local clinics are seeing cases of bronchitis,pneumonia,and lung cancer increase at an alarming rate. Residents of the city have high levels of lead poisoning, this is especially common in children. Arsenicosis, a disease caused by drinking water contaminated with arsenic is epidemic in all areas, and 52% of city’s drinking water is considered unsafe to drink.

The World’s Top 20 Most Polluted Cities

Chernobyl,Ukraine

Number Affected: 500 (in Chernobyl), and 5,000,000 in areas covered in radioactive fallout

The site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, Chernobyl, is stilling contaminated after an accident that occurred in 1986. After the nuclear plant’s meltdown it is estimated that 100 times more radiation was released into the air than the fallout of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The city and the surrounding areas suffer from high levels of radiation, the 19 mile radius around the plant still remains uninhabitable. The effects of the radiation on the inhabitants is the subject of an intense debate however almost all can agree that thyroid cancer has increased in the region since the incident.

Sukinda, India

Number Affected: 2,600,000

Sukinda is contains 97% of India’s chromite ore deposits, and it is home to one of the largest chromite ore mines in the world. Twelve mines continue operating today without any environmental management plans. 30 million tons of waste rock have been spread out in surrounding areas, and the nearby Brahmani riverbanks. The mines discharge untreated water into the rivers, which then flow through an area that is flood prone resulting in further contamination. In the area 70% of surface water and 60% of drinking water is contaminated with two times more Chromium than the safe drinking level internationally. It has been recorded at 20 times the safe drinking limit several times over the years, researches also found the air and soil in the area to be contaminated. The workers at the coal mine have been heavily exposed to the contaminants daily. Tuberculosis,gastrointestinal bleed,and asthma are common. Birth defects,infertility, and still births have been on the rise. 84.7% of the deaths in the mining areas, and 86.4% of the deaths in nearby industrial villages are due to chromite related diseases.

Kabwe, Zambia

Number Affected: 255,000

Kabwe Zambia,located in southern Africa, was found to have an abundance of lead and zinc in 1902. Soon after the discovery mining and smelting industries moved in and ran almost continuously until 1994. The companies never dealt with any of the lead contamination that occurred, once the minerals ran out the industries left leaving behind 92 years of near constant pollution. Currently there are no more running mines in the area and the city is suffering from poisoned soil and water. A recent study found that the soil in a 12 1/2 mile radius (20km) had lead,cadmium,copper,and zinc at much higher levels than those deemed safe by the World Health Organization.There is a waterway in Kabwe that was once used by the smelters to carry away waste, that has no restrictions or safeguards to stop people from entering the water,local children often use this water for bathing.

On average the children of Kabwe have five to ten times more lead in their blood then the permissible maximum as by the EPA, in many cases it is potentially fatal.Younger men often search for scrap metals to sell and also suffer lead poisoning. A recent flood in the area washed years of built up waste into people’s gardens, homes, and into the city’s streets. Now much of the city is further contaminated with lead.

Dzerzhinsk, Russia

Number Affected: 300,000

Until the end of the cold war,Dzerzhinsk was one of Russia’s principal sites for chemical weapon productions and today it still remains a significant center for chemical manufacturing. An estimated 300,000 tonnes of chemical waste was carelessly and improperly disposed of between 1930 and 1998. 190 different identified chemicals were released into the groundwater, in places these chemicals turned the water into a white sludge containing dioxins, and phenol the levels of which are reported to be 17 million times the safe limit.

Because a number of industries are no longer in operation, groundwater, and water in the canals have risen and now threaten to release massive amounts of arsenic,mercury,lead,and dioxins into the Oka river basin a source of drinking water for the nearby city Nizhny Novgorod. Drinking supplies in this area and adjoining areas are heavily laced with contamination. A quarter of the city’s residents are still employed at factories that produce these toxic chemicals. There is a shocking amount of deaths below 40 in the local cemeteries. The death rate in this city has exceeded the birth rate by 260%. In one year there are 900 deaths in a city of 300,000. The average life expectancy for a man is 42, and 47 for women. The city has been labeled by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most chemically polluted city in the world.

Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan

Number Affected: 25,000

Throughout Mailuu-Suu there are twenty three tailing dumps and thirteen waste rock dumps. During the soviet era there was a uranium plant which produced more than 10,000 metric tons of uranium in twenty years. Millions of people in asia could be affected by this because the area where the plant stands is highly prone to seismic activity. An estimated 300,000 cubic meters fell into a river after an earthquake in 2005. 1.9 cubic meters of contamination are still in the dumps. A 1999 study found that the number of cases of any form of cancer in this area are twice as high as the rest of Kyrgyzstan.

ens-newswire.com

Tianying,China

Number Affected: 140,000

Tianying China produces about half of all lead in China, but low level technology,illegal operations,and almost no pollution control has led to severe lead poisoning in Tianying’s residents. It is also believed that some small recycling plants are located in the area which have a reputation for their heavy polluting. The lead industry has been pressured by local residents and officials to shut down production, but many industries remain in business. The average lead levels in the air and soil are(respectively) 8 1/2 and 10 times higher than health standards allow. Local farms have been contaminated with lead dust and contain as much as 24 times the amount of lead then allowed by national standards.

Many residents (particularly children) suffer from lead poisoning which has common effects such as:lower IQ,learning disabilities,hyper activity,short attention span,hearing and visual problems,stunted physical growth,kidney malfunction and failure,stomach aches,and brain damage. There has been a rise in premature births and cases of women giving birth to smaller, underdeveloped infants. This city has been labeled as one of the eight most polluted cities in China.

(no picture available)

Sumgayit, Azerbaijan

Number Affected: 275,000

Sumgayit used to be a major soviet industrial center,home to more than forty factories that produced industrial and agricultural chemicals. Some of the products included: synthetic rubber,chlorine,aluminium,pesticides,and detergents. While these factories were active they released more than 70-120,000 tonnes of harmful emissions into the air a year. Little to no precaution was taken to ensure safety the focus instead was turned to low cost production. Untreated sewage and mercury contaminated sludge are still dumped in the area.

During the soviet era Sumgayit had one of the highest mortality rates in the world. Sumgayit has 22-51% higher cancer rates than the rest of Azerbaijan, additionally there is an 8% increase in the cancer related mortality rate compared to the rest of the country. A high percentage of babies are still born or premature, and many suffer genetic defects such as down syndrome,bone disease,spinda bifida, hydrocephalus, and anencephaly, and mutations such as: club feet,cleft palate,and additional digits.

Norilsk, Russia

Norilsk was founded as a slave camp in 1935 and is Russia’s northernmost major city. The mining and smelting process in the area started in the 1930’s and today it is the world’s largest heavy metal smelting complex. 500 tonnes of copper oxides,500 tonnes of nickel oxides,and 2 million tonnes of sulfur are released into the air each year. The city is one of the most polluted cities in Russia. The snow in some areas is black, the air tastes and smells of sulfur and the average life expectancy in the area is 10 years below the average in the rest of Russia. The pollution affects the 37 mile (60 km) radius around the city. Respiratory disease rates are high in this region,especially amongst children, who also suffer from ear,nose and throat diseases. Chronic diseases of the lungs,respiratory tracts, and digestive systems are not uncommon all of which can result in lung cancer. Premature and late term pregnancy complications are frequent.

Norilsk

Ranipet, India

Number Affected: 50,000+

Ranipet,India is a medium sized community located 100 miles from Chennai, the fourth largest area in India. The soil and groundwater in the city are dangerously contaminated after decades of solid waste dumps and runoff from local factories. There are an estimated 150,000 tonnes of solid waste which accumulated in twenty years stacked in an open yard on the facility premises. Drinking wells in the area have been abandoned and crops fail to grow in this area. Mere contact with the water can cause painful skin lacerations.

Blacksmith Institute

September 23, 2010 at 9:20 pm 10 comments

HIV/AIDS:Facts And Statistics

The AIDS and HIV crisis is effecting millions of people worldwide everyday. Many of the victims live in poverty and  do not have the accessibility to healthcare that many in first world countries enjoy. This entry will: give you a definition of HIV/AIDS, how it affects people worldwide by region,some facts and statistics to help you better understand the scale of the problem, and how stigmas are slowing down progress in beating this crisis.

HIV(Human Immunodeficiency Virus): A medical condition that attacks the immune system and T-helper cells.

AIDS(Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome): A medical condition and is diagnosed when someone’s immune system is too weak to fight of infection.

The epidemic has had a devastating impact on societies, in countries that are the most affected the life expectancy has dropped to as little as 20 years. The people most at risk are young adults so these countries are also facing slow economic growth, and well as increases in poverty. Many that die have children and leave them behind, Africa for example has as many as 14 million orphaned children and that number is growing everyday.

North America and Western and Central Europe:

HIV and AIDS in higher income countries continues to rise , largely due to ARV therapy that prolongs the life of HIV positive people. This also means there is a larger pool of people who are able to transmit the virus on to someone else. It is estimated that 1.4 million people in North America and 850,000 in western and central Europe. In these two regions 38,000 people lost their battle with HIV.

Eastern Europe And Central Asia:

The epidemic in these areas are quickly expanding. In 2008 the number of people newly infected was 110,000, adding to the 1.5 million already living with the disease. Only a small portion of the HIV positive people in these areas have access to ARV therapy so the death rate in these areas is higher than it otherwise might be, the rate stands at around 87,000 people a year.

Asia:

In India alone 2-3.1 million people are HIV positive. The current estimate for the entire continent of Asia is 4.7 million.

Sub-Saharan Africa:

By far the area in the world most severely affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  The region has around 10% of the world’s population and 67% of the people living in this region of the world are HIV positive. 1.9 million people became infected in 2008 alone, bringing the total number of HIV positive people in the area to 22.4 million. In 2008 alone, 1.4 million people died as a result of HIV/AIDS. The average survival in the absence of treatment is 10 years after infection. ARV therapy can dramatically extend the survival and allow a person to live many years of healthy life, but this treatment is unavailable to most people living in the area.

North Africa And The Middle East:

In 2008 35,000 people in the area were newly infected with HIV, bringing the estimated number of HIV positives to 310,000 in the area, and 20,000 of these people lost their battle with HIV the same year.

Latin America And The Caribbean:

In these two regions of the world, 2.24 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. In 2008 there were 190,000 new infections, and 89,000 people died the same year. The largest epidemic in the area is Brazil with 730,000.

Facts & Statistics:

(these are the facts from 2008)

  • 33.4 million people were living with HIV/AIDS
  • 31.3 million adults living with HIV/AIDS
  • 15.7 million women living with HIV/AIDS
  • 2.1 million children living with HIV/AIDS
  • 2.7 million people were newly infected with HIV/AIDS
  • .43 million children were newly infected with HIV/AIDS
  • The total amount of deaths were 2 million
  • The total amount of deaths in children were .28 million
  • More than 25 million people have died since 1981
  • Africa alone has over 14 million AIDS orphans
  • In developing and transitional countries 9.5 million are in immediate need of life saving medicine, out of these only 4 million (42%) are receiving these drugs
  • The number of people living with HIV/AIDS has increased from 8 million in 1990 to 33 million today.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa 67% of people are living with HIV

Why is there a stigma related to HIV and AIDS?

Fear of getting the virus itself, coupled with value-based assumptions and general ignorance (whether purposeful or not) leads to the high level of stigma attached to HIV/AIDS.

Reasons why the stigma exists:

  • HIV and AIDS are often associated with behaviors that are already stigmatized in many societies such as homosexuality, drug addiction, promiscuity, and prostitution, people how view those with HIV or AIDS negatively will argue that those who have gotten the virus “deserved it” or that they were “asking for it”. Leading to the conclusion that it is the result of a person’s irresponsibility.
  • There is a lot of inaccurate information on how HIV is transmitted creating irrational behavior and misperceptions of personal risk.
  • Religious or moral views often lead people to believe that those infected are being punished for a moral fault such as promiscuity, and that they deserve to be punished for that.

In trying to understand why there is a stigma attached to HIV and AIDS it is important to remember that it is still a relatively  new disease and the widespread fear and panic of the 1980’s is still fresh in many people’s minds. And many of the irrational fears are still present even in developed countries where treatment for the disease is widely available. For example a recent study found that around 27% of Americans would stated that they would prefer not to work closely with someone infected with HIV.

What effects has the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS had?

The stigma attached to HIV and AIDS has had a profundly large impact. The World Heath Organization (WHO) has stated that the fear and stigma attached to those infected is the number one reason why people are reluctant to get tested, to disclose their status, or to take antiretroviral drugs. This contributes to the spread of HIV because the reluctance to be tested, disclose their status, or to practice safe sex means that people with HIV are more likely to infect others resulting in a higher number of AIDS related deaths. An unwillingness to be tested also means that those with HIV are diagnosed late when then virus has already progressed to AIDS making treatment harder and less effective, often leading to early death.

The widespread fear and stigma is also responsible for the low uptake of the prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes even in countries where it is free. For example in Botswana, only 26% of pregnant women have used this opportunity to protect their unborn children. Over half refused to take the test, and nearly half of those who did, and tested positive refused to accept treatment.

Research by the International Center For Research On Women (ICRW) found that the possible consequences of HIV related stigma are:

  • Loss of income/livelihood
  • Loss of marriage & childbearing options
  • Poor care within the health sector
  • Withdrawal of caregiving in the home
  • Loss of hope & feelings of worthlessness
  • Loss of reputation

Different kinds of HIV/AIDS related stigma:

The stigma often leads to discrimination and denied opportunities to those infected with the virus all over the world, based solely on their HIV status, affecting them in all areas of their life.

1. The Government

A countries laws and polices regarding HIV can have a large impact on the lives of those living with the condition. Discriminatory practices often alienate people living with HIV and lead to a reinforcement of the stigma. In 2008 it was reported that 67% of countries now have some form of legislation in place to protect those with HIV from discrimination and unfair treatment. All though this is certainly progress some argue that the laws are not good enough and still allow for some forms of discrimination.

The government has a large variety of ways in which it can discriminate against individuals or communities that have (or are even suspected of having) HIV here are just a few of the many examples:

    • The president of Uganda, supports the national policy of dismissing or not promoting members of the armed forces who test HIV positive.
    • The Chinese advocates compulsory HIV testing for any citizen who had been living outside of the country for more than one year.
    • The UK legal system can prosecute individuals who pass the virus onto someone else, even if the person did it without intent.

2. Healthcare

In healthcare settings those with HIV may be subjected to discriminated by:

    • Being refused medicine
    • Being refused access to facilities
    • Receiving HIV testing without their consent
    • Lack of confidentiality

Doctors in healthcare settings that are resource poor in areas with little to no drugs are often not prioritized, and sometimes even refused treatment because it is believed that they are “doomed to die”.Discriminated in healthcare settings is not confined to developing countries, it has been reported in many developed countries. How can we help fix this? By making doctors realize the negative impact that stigma has on an HIV patient, encourages doctors to have accurate information about the risk of HIV infection, and encouraging them to not associate HIV with immoral behavior.

3. Employment

In the workplace those who are HIV positive may face discrimination and stigma from their co-workers and employers such as social isolation,ridicule, and they can face discriminatory practices such as termination or refusal of employment. This is a problem largely faced in developing countries it is also a significant problem in developing countries as well.

4. Restrictions on travel and stay

Many countries have laws that restrict the entry,stay or residence of those who are HIV positive. Almost 60% of countries have laws that specifically apply to people with HIV and AIDS based on their positive status alone. This number does not include countries whose legislation include such language as “contagious” or “transmittable diseases” if HIV and AIDS are not mentioned specifically.

    • Until January 4, 2010 the United States restricted all HIV positive people from entering the country, whether their were visiting on holiday or on a long term basis.
    • Twenty two countries including Russia, Egypt, and South Korea deport all foreigners based on their HIV positive status alone.
    • Study by students is restricted in some countries such as Malaysia and Syria if the student is HIV positive
    • There are travel restrictions for HIV positive people in 196 countries around the world

5. Community

Those who are HIV positive face discrimination and stigma in their communities all over the world this can have a large impact on their life. If the reaction is hostile enough, which in many cases it is, the person with HIV may have to live their home or change their daily activities and schedule such as shopping, socializing, and schooling. Discrimination can come in many forms ostracism,rejection,verbal and physical abuse this hostility has even extended to murder.

6.Family

In the majority of developing countries the families are usually the primary caregivers if someone falls ill. Not all family responses are positive however, and HIV positive people may face discrimination, abuse and stigma from within their own homes.


September 23, 2010 at 2:56 pm Leave a comment


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