Sep 11, 2007


ANDREA THOMPSON, LIVE - Water, air and soil pollution, along with other environmental factors, contribute to 40 percent of deaths worldwide each year, a new study concludes. In a review of research into the effects of environmental pollutants and other sources of environmental degradation, Cornell University ecologist David Pimentel estimates that 62 million deaths per year (40 percent of all that occur) can be attributed to environmental factors, particularly organic and chemical pollutants that accumulate in the air we breathe and the water we drink. . . With an estimated 1.1 billion people in the world lacking access to clean water (according to WHO estimates), it is little wonder that waterborne infections account for 80 percent of all infectious diseases in the world. . .

Water contaminated with untreated sewage and fecal matter can facilitate the transmission of diarrheal diseases such as cholera (bacteria that live in feces), intestinal infections (which can compound health issues by causing malnutrition) and other diseases—all of which kill millions every year, especially children. A 2004 study by the Population Resource Center found that 2.2 million infants and children die each year from diarrhea, caused largely by contaminated water and food.