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Human Development Report
Pollution: a few statistics- UNO Alarm

"Some statistics taken from the Human Development Report of the United Nations on the world situation regarding the pollution of our planet during 1998, give us food for thought. The atmospheric pollution of the cities, and that of the rivers and lakes, is becoming increasingly worrying, and the number of illnesses and deaths is on the increase.

The most polluted city proved to be Mexico City, but the great metropolises of the developing countries are becoming increasingly dirty and, with the increase in technological development, the People’s Republic of China has become a special case, with an avalanche of deaths and cases of chronic bronchitis caused by the appalling quality of the air.

Deaths caused by atmospheric pollution   2,000,000
Deaths caused by pollution from wood-smoke, used for cooking and heating   650,000
Deaths caused every year by pollution in Mexico City   6,400
Deaths caused by atmospheric pollution in the People’s Republic of China   175,000
Cases of bronchitis in the People’s Republic of China in 1995   2,000,000
Premature deaths in developing countries caused by atmospheric pollution   70%
Estimated damage of chronic bronchitis due to pollution in developing countries   US$4 billion
Damage caused by atmospheric pollution in Germany every year   US$ 4,7 billion
Damage caused by atmospheric pollution in Poland every year   US$ 2,7 billion
Damage caused by atmospheric pollution in Italy every year   US$ 1,8 billion
Damage caused by atmospheric pollution in Sweden every year   US$ 1,7 billion
Acidified lakes in Sweden   20,000
Acidified lakes in Canada   48,000
Cases of diarrhoea caused by polluted water   2 billion
Death from diarrhoea in developing countries every year   5,000,000

Atmospheric pollution in developing countries causes an enormous percentage of premature deaths and cases of chronic bronchitis. The sector which appears to be worst hit by air pollution is that of agriculture, with an estimate of damage in 4 countries alone, including Italy, of over 10 billion dollars. The country in which agriculture has been worst hit is Germany, followed by Poland, Italy (with damage amounting to over 300 billion a year) and Sweden.

Even the waters of our planet are in serious danger: in Canada and in Sweden a vast number of lakes and waterways prove to be acidified, and in many of them the ichthyic fauna has been destroyed. The percentage of lead in the rivers of Asia is 20 times higher than the average in industrialised countries, and the bacteria content from excrement in these rivers is 50 times that of European rivers. The pollution of these water courses causes about two billion cases of diarrhoea. There’s certainly plenty to worry about, but the major imperative is to discover solutions.


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