"Toxic Waste Sites May Cause Health Problems for Millions"

"Living near a toxic waste site may represent as much of a health threat as some infectious diseases, a study in three developing countries finds."

"Researchers analyzed 373 toxic waste sites in India, Indonesia and the Philippines, where an estimated 8.6 million people are at risk of exposure to lead, asbestos, hexavalent chromium and other hazardous materials. Among those people at risk, the exposures could cause a loss of around 829,000 years of good health as a result of disease, disability or early death, the team reports May 4 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

In comparison, malaria in these countries, whose combined population is nearly 1.6 billion, causes the loss of 725,000 healthy years while outdoor air pollution claims almost 1.5 million healthy years, according to the World Health Organization.

Although scientists have known for years about the risks of pollutants at toxic waste dumps, no one had quantified the health effects in this way, says study coauthor Kevin Chatham-Stephens, a pediatrician at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City."

Erin Wayman reports for Science News May 6, 2013.

Source: Science News, 05/07/2013