Monday, August 13, 2007

Pollution Causes 40% of World Deaths

by Topher Sanders
The Ithaca Journal
August 13, 2007

Pollution of the earth's air, water and soil is the cause of 40 percent of the world's deaths, a Cornell University researcher has concluded.

David Pimentel, professor of ecology and agricultural sciences, formed the conclusion after examining the findings of more than 120 published papers on the connections between population, malnutrition and pollution.

“This confirms a major concern that many people had been expressing,” Pimentel said. “And it is increasing.”

Pimentel was able to do the research with the help of graduate students. The group's findings will be published in December in the journal of Human Ecology.

Pimentel was initially drawn to the research by the world's malnourishment problems.

“We looked at what the World Health Organization is reporting which is that almost 60 percent of the world's population is malnourished,” he said. “This relates to disease in that people who are malnourished are more susceptible to a whole array of different diseases.”

Only 20 percent of the world's population was malnourished in 1950.

Eighty percent of the world's infectious diseases trace back to water pollution, Pimentel said.

“That's more important in developing nations,” he said. “In India, which has 1.1 billion people, only 8 cities have full water treatment, that means that 95 percent of their sewage is going into rivers and lakes without treatment and then the people are utilizing this water for their drinking, washing and so forth. So you can see why that is an important means of transmission of diseases.”

Solving the problem is a two step process, Pimentel said.

“We need to reduce environmental pollution, which is something we can control,” he said. “And we ought to do something about the world population problem which is far more difficult. We add a quarter of a million people to the Earth every 24 hours. The more people, the more pollution, the more diseases and so forth.”

Copyright ©2007 The Ithaca Journal

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