Drinking rainwater from banana leaf, Nigeria. (c) I. Uwanaka/UNEP peopleandplanet.net
people and health and pollution
Drinking rainwater from banana leaf, Nigeria. (c) I. Uwanaka/UNEP
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health and pollution > factfile

Water and sanitation
The provision of clean water and proper sanitation would do more than any other improvement to reduce sickness and death in the developing world. Cholera was eliminated in Europe not by vaccines or antibiotics but by clean water and proper sanitation. ... more

Air pollution
Clean air is considered to be a basic requirement of human health and well-being. But air pollution continues to pose a significant threat to health worldwide. According to a WHO assessment of the burden of disease due to air pollution, more than 2 million premature deaths each year can be attributed to the effects of urban outdoor air pollution and indoor air pollution (caused by the burning of solid fuels). More than half of this disease burden is borne by the populations of developing countries. ... more

Insect-borne diseases
Diseases carried by insects and other vectors affect more than 700 million people every year, and are considered the most sensitive to climatic and environment conditions. ... more

E-waste and techno trash
Huge quantities of hazardous electronic wastes (E-wastes) are being exported to China, Pakistan and India where they are processed in recycling operations - burning of plastics and wires, riverbank acid works to extract gold, melting and burning of toxic soldered circuit boards and the cracking and dumping of toxic lead laden cathode ray tubes - that are extremely harmful to human health and the environment. ... more

Rapid, unplanned urbanization can be an important source of health problems. By 2007, urban dwellers for the first time in history outnumbered those in the traditionally rural areas. The urban population of the developing world - already over 2 billion - is set to double by 2030. ... more

Pesticides and chemical pollution
In many regions, especially in the developing world, environmental health problems are made worse by pollution from industry and agriculture. Chemical agents, particularly airborne ones, are major factors in causing and worsening tuberculosis, bronchitis, heart disease, cancers and asthma. ... more

Climate change and disease
Changes in climate are likely to affect the incidence of diseases such as malaria, dengue and schistosomiasis by extending the range of their vector insects. A temperature rise of 1-2 degrees centigrade could result in an increase of the population at risk of contracting dengue by several hundred million, with 20,000-30,000 more dengue deaths a year by 2050. ... more

Occupational health, new lifestyles
The workplace is the most hazardous environment. In many developing countries bad working conditions or exposure to toxic chemicals, dust and allergenic or carcinogenic agents affect millions, as does exposure to insecticides and other toxic chemicals on the land. ... more

The good news
By 2000, nearly 80 per cent of the population in the developing world had access to safe water and over half had access to sanitation. ... more

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