Tuesday, February 11, 2014

19 February 2014: Toxic Pollution in India: The Unseen Public Health Menace

Richard Fuller
Blacksmith Institute
H. Conrad Meyer III
Blacksmith Institute
V Rajagopalan
Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India
Keshav Desiraju
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India

The health impacts of toxic pollution, chemicals and wastes constitute an under-recognized global epidemic. Indeed, WHO estimates that one-fifth of the global burden of disease is attributable to environmental health problems. This little known yet major public health and environmental issue affects India as much as it does other developing countries. Exposure to toxic hotspots puts millions at risk. Worldwide, populations at risk from toxic pollution may exceed 200 million. In India, where some 320 sites have been identified so far, the estimate is about 25 million. And studies show that the health risks from toxic pollution are comparable to those from outdoor pollution and malaria. In short, this is a problem of scale. These health impacts are horrendous and tragic. Toxicants such as lead, mercury, chromium and others cause mental retardation, cancers, neurological damage, and gastro-intestinal and auto-immune disorders. In extreme cases, such exposures result in death. And, sadly, children and pregnant women are the ones most affected. With help from World Bank, Blacksmith Institute and others, the Indian government is tackling this issue. It is currently remediating the 10 worst polluted sites in the country. But the scale of the problem requires efforts from all stakeholders: government, industry, NGOs and the general public. Richard Fuller, President, Blacksmith Institute and the pioneer in calling the world's attention to this issue, will discuss the contours of the problem in India, the current state of play, and the recommended next steps. Dr V. Rajagopalan, Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests and Shri K. Desiraju, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will explain the initiatives being taken by their Ministries to deal with the ecological and health aspects of toxic pollution. Conrad Meyer, Chairman, Blacksmith Institute, will place efforts in India in the context of international action on toxic pollution, chemicals and wastes.

Date: February 19, 2014
Time: 10:30 A.M. (Registration: 10:00 A.M.)

WWF Auditorium,
172-B, Lodhi Estate,
New Delhi - 110003(INDIA)


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