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close this bookWIT's World Ecology Report - Vol. 10, No. 4 - Critical Issues in Health and the Environment (WIT, 1998, 16 p.)
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Did You Know

· During 1998, evidence continued to accumulate indicating that a significant portion of female breast cancer is preventable because it is caused by exposure to cancer-causing agents (chemicals and radiation - including hydrogenated vegetable oils) in the environment. About 182,000 new cases of breast cancer occur in American women each year, and 46,000 deaths occur annually from the disease. In the U.S., the occurrence of breast cancer has increased steadily at the rate of one percent each year for the past 40 years.

SOURCE: Rachel's Environment & Health Weekly #630, Dec. 24, 1998.

· Measurements made during the past 2 years of air pollution crossing the Pacific Ocean from Asia to North America showed a burst in the concentrations of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and other pollutants from fossil-fuel combustion, late last April (1998). Strong dust storms in China lifted 140 million tons of fine soil particles into the atmosphere and a week later reached western North America. The thick Asian dust brought with it measurable quantities of arsenic, copper, lead, and zinc, recorded in higher air concentrations of these metals across the western United States on April 29. This data firmly indicates that pollution travels long distances. There is also suspicion that American pollution crosses the Atlantic Ocean and lands in Europe. The concentrations of pollutants crossing an ocean are small in most cases and pose little health risk so far.

SOURCE: Science News, Vol. 154, No. 24, Dec. 12, 1998.

· The pesticide Lindane has been used in unintended ways by Ugandans. Empty containers are often used for packaging alcohol drinks and for children's juice for school. Due to insufficient cleaning, people have ingested large doses of these pesticides causing acute poisoning. The amount of water required to wash a drum in a rural household setting is prohibitive. Drums are therefore rolled to the stream where there is adequate water. The pesticide left in drums is sufficient to cause large fish kills in those streams which receive the toxic residues. Lindane has also been used by some fishermen to kill fish. The fishermen pour the toxin onto a stream or river, killing the fish which float to the surface for the men to collect. This poisons the fish as well as the water.

SOURCE: Timothy Byakola, Climate and Development Initiatives, P.O. Box. 8849 Kampala, Uganda, E-mail:

STATUS REPORT - Using Less Water/Americans use of water has declined since peaking in 1980 This is how the water was used./Source: US Geological Survey

SOURCE: New York, Times, November 10, 1998

· A study conducted by the Japanese Environment Agency indicated that large quantities of PCBs, DDT insecticides, and other chemical compounds, have been detected in the unhatched eggs and dead offspring of the endangered golden eagle. This finding provides evidence that the birds are passing the chemicals to their young. The study was carried out from 1995 to 1997 in areas around Japan.

SOURCE: Greenpeace, as reported by Jack Weinberg, 1999.

· Cambodian officials found at least 3,000 tons of what is suspected to be toxic waste near Cambodia's only seaport. The waste was discovered 110 miles southwest of Phnom Penh. Local scavengers suffered from skin rashes, which suggested that the waste could be the compressed ashes from an industrial toxic-waste incinerator. The Cambodian Environment Ministry has asked experts from the UN Development Program to analyze the material SOURCE: (AP/Son Francisco Chronicle Examiner, online, 12/16/98).

· World Health Organization's target for controlling tuberculosis by 2000 is detained, as the 16 countries which account for half the world's TB cases refuse to take the TB epidemic seriously. The 16 countries include, Brazil, Iran, Mexico, Russia and South Africa.


· Research conducted on behalf of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) by Finland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs probed 13 cases from around the world in which NGOs formed the subject of evaluations. It found little consensus on which methods for impact assessment stand out as the most revealing or reliable. And despite growing demand from all quarters for more and better monitoring and evaluation studies, the signs are that awareness of the true impact of NGO-run development projects remains sketchy.

SOURCE: Contributed by R. Riddell et al - OECD to the ID21 News Issue No.19 January 11 th 1999.