New Pollution Info-Sessions Series Launches With Global Experts Offering Solutions Every Two Weeks

Announcing the launch of the GAHP’s Pollution Info-Sessions–a new educational series in which experts from around the globe share their insights on pollution-related topics, followed by a Q&A.

  • Pollution Info-Sessions take place every second Thursday of the month at the same time (8 a.m. EST).
  • To attend, just dial in via phone or online. Get access info here, or scroll below.
  • Each presentation in the series will be recorded and made accessible on YouTube, and linked to this page (see below).
  • Check the events page or the Pollution Info-Sessions page for a schedule of upcoming Pollution Info-Sessions.

Attend Pollution Info-Sessions:

Join from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/945502973

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States (Toll Free): 1 866 899 4679
International: +1 (571) 317-3117
Access Code: 945-502-973

Watch past Pollution Info-Sessions here:

Pollution Info-session # 1 – How to Remediate Lead Contaminated Sites Thursday, Jan 26, 2017, 8:00 a.m. EST
Presenter: Mr. John Keith

Watch a recording of Pollution Info-Session #1 on YouTube

This session introduces the different sources of lead contamination and health effects, reviews seven strategies for the remediation of such sites, and presents some of the most cost-effective strategies for remediation, including several Pure Earth projects. The presentation ends with a discussion of lessons learned.

Mr. John Keith is an environmental executive and engineer with over 40 years experience in industry and government. He has directed many contamination remediation projects in the U.S. and throughout the world. In 2010 he spent 3 months in Zamfara, Nigeria, as the project manager for Pure Earth/Blacksmith Institute, remediating severe lead contamination in seven remote villages.

He served as Director of Operations for Pure Earth in 2011-2012, and since entering semi-retirement, serves as Senior Technical Advisor. He has provided expert advice for many Pure Earth projects, including efforts in Vietnam, Indonesia, Somaliland, Zambia and several former Soviet Union countries, working mostly on lead and pesticide contamination projects.

Pollution Info-session #2 – The Chemistry of Environmental Mercury
Thursday, February 9, 2017, 8:00 a.m. EST
Presenter: Dr. Jack Caravanos

Watch a recording of Pollution Info-Session #2 on YouTube

The complicated chemistry of environmental mercury: Mercury exists in many forms as a liquid, solid and gas. To make matter worse, each form has different solubilities, vapor pressures and environmental pathways. Once in the body, each form impacts different organs systems. Some forms are deadly while others seem innocuous. What this means is that assessing the human health effects from mercury releases and exposures is complicated. This presentation will describe the chemistry of mercury and how it moves through the environment and our bodies.

Dr. Jack Caravanos is Professor of Global Environmental Health at NYU’s College of Global Public Health and Director of Research at Pure Earth. He originally trained in chemistry and now specializes in assessing environmental contamination and human health effects of toxic agents.

Pollution Info-Session #3: Overview Of AuthorAid – A Researcher Network
Date: Thursday, Feb 23, 2017, 8:00 AM EST
Presenters: Mrs. Jennifer Chapin & Mrs. Sandra Page Cook

Watch a recording of Pollution Info-Session #3 on YouTube

Mrs. Page-Cook will talk about the Journal of Health and Pollution and the close collaboration with INASP. Mrs. Chapin will provide an overview of AuthorAID: the website, mentoring platform, online courses, embedding work and recent work supporting women researchers. She will also present the other work they do at INASP on access to e-resources, supporting libraries and supporting evidence-informed policymaking.

Mrs Jennifer Chapin 
coordinates the communication of research at INASP, managing the AuthorAID programme to support the capacity of researchers in developing countries to communicate their research to different actors, and to increase the quality and quantity of their research publications. Before joining INASP in 2016, Jennifer spent the previous four years at the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in London, a role which included developing research best practice and quality assurance, supporting the development of actuarial research with 300 researchers worldwide.

Mrs Sandra Page Cook is the Managing Editor of the Journal of Health and Pollution at Pure Earth.

Pollution Info-Session #4: Is Mercury Really Needed In ASGM?
Date: Thursday, March 9, 2017, 8:00 AM EST
Presenter: Mr. Ludovic Bernaudat

Watch a recording on YouTube

 

This session presents the basic characteristics of the sector, explains why mercury is used and showcases good examples of non-mercury extraction and in which conditions it is more efficient, therefore sustainable.

Mr. Ludovic Bernaudat is an environment specialist with 17 years of experience in research and development projects with a strong focus on mercury. He has co-lead the inception of the Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining area of the UN Environment Global Mercury Partnership since its inception in 2007. He holds a MSc in Environmental Sciences.

Need help? Have a suggestion?

Contact Lucie at lucie@pureearth.org:

  • If you have any difficulties accessing the GoToMeeting session.
  • If you need a PDF of the presentation to follow along using just the phone line.
  • If you have a solution or pollution topic you’d like to share or learn more about.

Upcoming Pollution Info-Sessions

New Lancet Editorial

A new editorial on air pollution published by The Lancet explores the need for cooperation and calls for transformative efforts to reduce its burden of disease. It lists the work being done by the global Commission on Pollution, Health and Development as a crucial component of any global solution. Read the full editorial here or reproduced below:

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Air pollution—crossing borders
Published July 2016 in The Lancet

A silent killer responsible for more deaths than the number from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and road injuries combined. A killer indifferent to political agendas and that cannot be contained by borders. Air pollution is associated with around 6·5 million deaths each year globally. While premature deaths from household air pollution are projected to decline from 3·5 million today to 3 million by 2040, premature deaths from outdoor pollution are set to rise from 3 million to 4·5 million in the same period. Transformative action is needed to mitigate this death toll.

There is a dearth of information available on the health effects and economic impact of environmental pollution. Proven solutions are available, but implementation remains a challenge that requires coordinated efforts across sectors and nations. A report by the World Wildlife Fund’s European Policy Office, Climate Action Network Europe, the Health and Environment Alliance, and Sandbag has, for the first time, quantified the cross-border health effects of air pollution from coal use in electricity generation in the European Union (EU), estimating total associated economic costs of up to €62·3 billion. The report aims to promote debate on the rapid phase-out of coal-burning power generation and calls for action at the national and EU level. Toxic particles created by burning coal can be carried beyond the borders of the countries where the power plants are situated. In France, where coal burning is low, 1200 premature deaths a year are caused by air pollution from the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Spain, and the UK. The cross border nature of coal pollution highlights the need for governments to work together to urgently phase out coal burning.

The need for cooperation is reiterated in a special report on from the International Energy Agency (IEA), which campaigns for global action to overcome the negative environmental effects of energy use. The report cites energy production as the most important source of air pollution coming from human activity and presents strategies to tackle energy poverty in developing countries, reduce pollutant emissions through post-combustion control technologies, and promote clean forms of energy.

The Clean Air Scenario presented by IEA uses benchmarks for air quality goals, such as WHO guideline levels, to set long-term targets. Strategies outlined for the energy sector are adapted to different national and regional settings. In developing countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, a notable health impact arises from smoky environments caused by use of wood and other solid fuels for cooking; whereas power plants, industrial facilities, and vehicle emissions are the main causes of outdoor pollution in many high-income countries. Cities in particular are susceptible to becoming pollution hotspots due to concentrated populations, energy use, and traffic.

Although the report takes important steps in tailoring policies to local and national conditions, the proposals are not ambitious enough. For example, the report sets out a scenario in which the number of people being exposed to fine particulate matter levels above the WHO guideline in the EU will be less than 10% by 2040. Yet in the USA, average air pollution limits are already below national limits, having declined by 70% since 1970 despite growth in population levels and energy consumption. Setting half-hearted goals as far ahead as 2040 will only widen the gap between the USA and the rest of the world. The report recognises the need for clearly defined responsibilities, reliable data, and a focus on compliance and policy improvement to keep strategies on course. However, long-term goals can be easy to forget or conveniently ignore, particularly if the issue is allowed to slip down the political agenda. Now is not a time to become complacent, but to match the strides being made by the USA in improving air quality.

The Lancet, the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP), and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, with coordination from the UN Environment Programme and the World Bank, have united to produce a Commission on Pollution, Health, and Development. The aim of the Commission is to inform key decision makers globally of pollution’s severe and under-reported contribution to the global burden of disease and to present available pollution control strategies and solutions, dispelling the myth of pollution’s inevitability and combating apathy. In a turbulent political climate, environmental pollution must not be allowed to fall by the wayside. Policies should take centre stage and nations must come together in a spirit of mutual cooperation to tackle air pollution.

Global Braintrust On Pollution Meets To Continue Work On Paradigm-Shifting Report

IMG_1992 (2)Traveling from across the globe, 20 Commissioners from the new global Commission on Pollution, Health and Development convened for two days in New York City for a detailed review and rigorous discussion of a research and policy draft report that could change the way pollution is viewed and funded by key decision-makers. The report is scheduled to be published by The Lancet in the first quarter of 2017.

This is the third face-to-face meeting bringing together the Commissioners.

“We are grateful for all the hard work and contributions by dozens of Commissioners and advisors who have been researching, writing, reviewing, analyzing data and discussing the many facets of the complex problem of pollution for close to a year now,” said Richard Fuller, Co-chairman of the Commission, President of Pure Earth, Secretariat for the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution.

The Commission comprises many of the world’s most influential leaders, researchers and practitioners in the fields of pollution management, environmental health and sustainable development. Representatives attended from the World Bank, UNEP, NIEHS, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Consortium of Universities for Global Health, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, World Health Organization, University of California, Berkeley and Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn, Princess of Thailand, President and Professor, Chulabhorn Research Institute.

Also in attendance was Pam Das, Senior Editor of The Lancet, who gave an overview of The Lancet’s process in publishing major reports.

The Commission’s three goals are:

  1. to develop robust estimates of the total burden of disease attributable to all types of environmental pollution and to develop defensible estimates of the total economic costs associated with these diseases;
  2. to educate key decision makers in countries around the world, especially Heads of State, Governors and Ministers of Finance as well as international donors about the enormous scale of the health and economic effects of pollution and to urge them to take urgent action to address the problem of pollution; and
  3. to create a new paradigm for global health and international development in which planetary health, pollution control and the movement towards a circular economy are at the center of the agenda.

The Commission on Pollution, Health and Development is an initiative of The Lancet, the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP), and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, with additional coordination and input from the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank. Commission activities are implemented by the Secretariat, currently hosted by Pure Earth.

Full house at GAHP’s UNEA2 event

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Over 100 people attended GAHP’s event at UNEA2 on May 27 to learn more about “Pollution: The Largest Cause Of Death On The Planet – A Lancet Report In The Making.”

GAHP has convened a “global pollution brain trust” of leaders to produce a report, The Global Commission on Pollution, Health + Development, that will be published by The Lancet at the end of 2016. While findings are preliminary at this stage, the session offered a sneak peek at details of the report to give attendees an idea of the scale of the pollution problem, and the stunning results expected to be unveiled.

The event was presented by GAHP with partners including Germany, Indonesia, Philippines, Mexico, Ghana, Cambodia, Cameroon, Madagascar, Jordan, Peru, Uruguay, Togo, European Commission Director General Environment, UNEP, EB, and UNIDO.

 

 

India’s Lead Problem: More Than Just Instant Noodles

Earlier this month, there was a lead poisoning scare involving Maggi instant noodles manufactured in India. The company promptly pulled the product and samples were sent to the Maharashtra Food and Drugs Administration for testing. The results – most of the samples were found to have lead, but within the permissible limits of 2.5 parts per million.

While the story got a lot of attention, our colleagues in the India Alliance on Health (IAHP) and Pollution pointed out that “India does not have a noodle problem, it has a lead problem…”

Dr. Subhojit DeyAssociate Professor, Indian Institute of Public Health, wrote this insightful piece on behalf of IAHP, published in the Economic Times.  In it, he points out that toxic lead affects 1.5 to 2 million people in India alone.

Children are the most vulnerable, especially those under six. Dr. Dey explains how lead works once it accumulates in the body:

If lead is available, the body confuses it with more essential elements like calcium and begins using lead to make bones, muscles, brain connections etc.

Imagine having toxic lead as the building blocks in your body.  The consequences?

Existing studies estimate that Indian children under 12 have a mean blood lead level (BLL) of 10 µg/dl which is twice the levels considered in USA as level of concern or “action level”. The loss of IQ of Indian children due to such high lead levels is resulting in $236.1 billion (12.5% of India’s GDP) in economic productivity every year.

And the causes of lead exposure in India come from far more potent sources than noodles.

 Aside from fuel, lead exposure in India occurs from paints, canned food, old pipes in the drinking water system, cosmetics, indigenous medicine systems and the battery/plastic recycling industry.

As Dr. Dey concludes:

India does not have a noodle problem, it has a lead problem, and we need to deal with it.

Read the entire article – Problems of lead and human health in India – Maggi hardly ‘leads’ it

 

New Website for the Global Commission on Pollution, Health and Development

Commission website grabThe new Global Commission on Pollution, Health and Development now has a website at www.CommissionOnPollution.org

Launched in October, the Commission brings together world leaders and key experts in the fields of pollution management, environmental health and sustainable development. Like the Stern Review on “The Economics of Climate Change” which brought the issue of climate change to the fore, the Commission report, due to be published in The Lancet next year, may be the game-changer the world needs to wake up to this global crisis of toxic pollution. Data from 2012 shows that pollution killed one in seven people worldwide.  This is the largest cause of death in low and middle income countries.

“We need to dispel the myth that pollution is inevitable. In fact, pollution is a problem that can be solved in our lifetime,” said Commission co-chairman Richard Fuller, President, Pure Earth.

The Global Commission on Pollution, Health and Development is an initiative of The Lancet, the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, with coordination from the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank.

Why do we need a Commission on Pollution?  This editorial published in The Lancet, one of the world’s most prestigious and widely read medical journals, explains the urgent need for the Commission.

German Environment Minister Pledges Support For Commission On Pollution At ICCM4

Barbara Hendricks, Minister of Environment, Germany, was part of a panel of world leaders and international experts who gathered at ICCM4 in Geneva in September to help launch the Global Commission on Pollution, Health and Development.

The international support for the Commission has been tremendous.  We believe this might be the game-changer in the fight against toxic pollution–the largest cause of death in developing countries.

In her statement, Hendricks summarizes the many challenges, highlighting in particular the link between the environment and economic development, which is often overlooked:

… the adverse effects of pollution on health hinder or even render impossible any meaningful social and economic development. There are many examples for that. Not the least that it has become an increasing economic impediment that some cities have become totally unattractive for foreign investors and experts because of the level of pollution.

Environment Ministers have been preaching this fundamental link between environment and development ever since or even before the Rio Conference in 1992. But that message is still not sufficiently heard.

Pollution needs to be on everybody’s agenda who cares about public health and sustainable development – and not just on the agendas of the Environment Ministers of this world, like myself.

Drawing a comparison between the Commission Report, to be published next year, and the Stern Review, the Minister explains the potential for the report to awaken the world to the impact of toxic pollution. Listen to her make that point below:

Here is her full statement:

Many steps have been taken to strengthen sustainable development all over the globe in the last decades. Many successes have been achieved! But there is still a lot of unfinished business to be taken care of. That’s why the new Sustainable Development Goals are so important and so necessary. And I see the activities presented here today as part of the efforts to achieve these goals and to implement the Sustainable Development Agenda.

A lot of that unfinished business relates to the topic of pollution and health: Environmental exposures cause approximately a quarter of the deaths worldwide. This is a tremendous problem that is not yet sufficiently communicated – despite the efforts of the World Health Organization to bring more awareness to it.

And it was quite a fight to make sure that pollution and health is explicitly addressed in the Sustainable Development Goals. When we tackle pollution – be it the lack of safe water and sanitation, be it the exposure to contaminated sites or the lack of clean air to breathe – we do not just protect human health and the environment.

We also very much contribute to economic development: Especially in developing countries, the adverse effects of pollution on health hinder or even render impossible any meaningful social and economic development. There are many examples for that. Not the least that it has become an increasing economic impediment that some cities have become totally unattractive for foreign investors and experts because of the level of pollution.

Environment Ministers have been preaching this fundamental link between environment and development ever since or even before the Rio Conference in 1992. But that message is still not sufficiently heard. Pollution needs to be on everybody’s agenda who cares about public health and sustainable development – and not just on the agendas of the Environment Ministers of this world, like myself.

I am glad that key institutions such as the World Bank are now preaching this fundamental message as well. But a lot more people, governments and institutions need to be convinced that environmental protection is not an add-on to economic development. It is a prerequisite.

The Global Alliance on Health and Pollution is an ambassador of this message. GAHP has done a fantastic job to get this message across to people and institutions alike. This is why we enjoy working with GAHP and this is why – this year – my Ministry became a member of GAHP.

The role as an ambassador will be greatly amplified by the Commission on Pollution, Health and Development that GAHP initiated.

The Commission will generate numbers – numbers with Dollar signs or Euro signs attached. Numbers that will tell us what it costs in economic terms to pollute the environment and harm people’s health through pollution. Numbers that will tell us how unreasonable it is even in economic terms not to take care of the world we live in.

The Stern Report once pursued a similar goal. It taught us why we need to tackle climate change now and not later, because postponing action will translate in much higher costs in the end. The Stern Report had a huge effect and was widely discussed. Its effect was to a great extent due to the fact that it spoke in terms that economists understand. It used their logic and their lingo. And the key messages were easy to summarize and communicate to the general public.

I very much hope that the report of this new Commission will be equally successful. We need it to raise awareness. We need it to change minds. We need it to reach people that until now believe that environmental policy comes only second after investing into economic activities.

I am impressed by the panel of experts that GAHP has been able to win for this project. It is a perfect mixture of economists and medical experts, policy makers – past and present – and communicators. I am convinced this will work! And I am happy to say that my Ministry will be one of the financial supporters of this project.

I wish you the best of luck and very much look forward to the results of your important endeavor. Thank you very much for your attention!

Related:

VIDEO: President Salinas Talks About Mexico’s Success Dealing With Past Pollution

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“In Mexico, the problem of air pollution became so bad that children would paint pictures with the sky colored brown, and would draw the night sky without stars.”

President Carlos Salinas de Gortari of Mexico (1988-1994) was one of the heads of states who helped to launch the Global Commission on Pollution, Health and Development. Here, he speaks about Mexico’s success dealing with pollution in the past, and about current efforts. 

Lancet Editorial: Why We Need A Commission on Pollution

On Oct 1, a panel of world leaders and experts in the fields of pollution management, environmental health and sustainable development announced the launch of the Global Commission on Pollution, Health and Development at the 4th Session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4), in Geneva, Switzerland.

What is the Commission and why do we need it?

The Commission chairmen — Dr. Philip Landrigan, Dean for Global Health, Professor of Preventative Medicine and Pediatrics, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; and Richard Fuller, President, Pure Earth (formerly Blacksmith Institute), which serves as Secretariat, Global Alliance on Health and Pollution — explain all in this editorial published Oct. 10 in The Lancet, one of the world’s most prestigious and widely read medical journals.

The editorial opens with a summary of the global crisis:

Environmental pollution is a large, costly, inequitably distributed, and preventable cause of disease and death in countries around the world. The links between pollution and health, while very strong, have been insufficiently appreciated in the global health agenda, and the international and domestic resources allocated to pollution control have not been commensurate with the great magnitude of the problem.

And ends with the key point – that pollution is not inevitable.

Pollution is a problem that can be solved in our lifetime. The Commission will lay the foundation for its solution by defining pollution’s many effects on health, economics, and development and then presenting this information to world leaders. The Commission’s ultimate goal is to raise the priority of pollution control in the international development agenda, and thus increase the resources allocated to this pressing global health problem.

Read the full Lancet editorial here.

The Global Commission on Pollution, Health and Development is an initiative of The Lancet, the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, with coordination from the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank. www.commissiononpollution.org.

Related:

Global Commission on Pollution, Health and Development Launches At ICCM4

The Global Commission on Pollution, Health and Development was launched Oct. 1, 2015, at the 4th Session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4), in Geneva, Switzerland.

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Carlos Salinas de Gortari, President, Mexico (1988-1994), speaks at the launch of the Global Commission on Pollution, Health and Development at the ICCM4 conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on Oct 1, 2015. Richard Fuller, President of Pure Earth, which serves as Secretariat of the GAHP, looks on.

The panel announcing the Commission at the ICCM4 included:

  • Karti Sandilya (panel moderator), former U.S. Resident Director of the Asian Development Bank
  • Carlos Salinas de Gortari, President, Mexico (1988-1994)
  • Achim Steiner, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme
  • Jairam Ramesh, Member of Parliament, India; Minister of Rural Development, India (2011-2014); Minister of State at the Ministry of Environment and Forests, India (2009-2011)
  • Barbara Hendricks, Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany
  • Richard Fuller, President, Pure Earth (formerly Blacksmith Institute), which services as Secretariat for the GAHP.

The Commission is an initiative of The Lancet, the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP), and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, with coordination from the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank.