In this growing world, a number of toxic pollutants are degrading the environment, and it produces a direct impact on human health. Studies show that this burden falls on the poor population of the world.
Studies have proven that one of the leading factors in the premature mortality rate for people from low and middle-income countries is environmental pollution. This was a problem for higher-income countries too, but researchers note that this has changed.
Studies Link Poverty With Higher Exposure To Toxic Pollutants And Risk Of Health Hazards
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ Dr. William A Suk, along with his co-authors believe that more than 94% of mortality that happens because of degrading environment and growing pollution occur in people living in low and middle-income countries.
In some previous research studies, Dr. William and his co-authors said that the key causes of these deaths in people living in low and middle-income countries are indoor air pollution and contaminated drinking water. These factors still apply to the growing mortality rate.
The authors note that in the past centuries, several thousands of pesticides and toxic chemicals have been released into the environment. Among them, many are not properly tested and their effects on health, both long-term and short-term, are unknown. It remains unclear what these chemicals when combined, can do to our health and bodies.
Researchers say that organic chemicals should be worried about, as they stay for a longer time in the environment. Studies have linked exposure to toxic pollutants with diseases like diabetes, obesity, cancer, cardiovascular problems, and hypertension. These chronic health issues affected high-income countries previously but are now impacting countries where industries are polluting the environment.
Many scientists are worried about endocrine-disrupting chemicals or EDCs. A report of 2020 noted that EDCs were found in most people as they are present in everyday plastics, according to the Endocrine Society.
The Endocrine Society says that EDCs can easily disrupt our body’s hormone systems, cause reproductive disorders, diabetes, cancer, and neurological impairments in fetuses. The Endocrine Society says that there is abundant proof that toxic chemicals present in plastic adversely impact our endocrine system.
It is likely that EDCs may put some communities at a higher risk than others. A study published in Diabetes Care journal found that people with low incomes, African and Latino have higher EDC exposure, especially from industries. Dr. Robert Sargis of the study and his co-authors say that people in these demographics suffer from diabetes because of exposure. Additionally, the marginalized community is more disproportionately affected.
One of the major factors that still remains is the history of colonialism as well as structural racism that prevails in the world even today. If we divide major races among the laborers and workers, we get to know that people of color were paid low, they had low-income housing that too around polluting industries, and lived in hazardous conditions.
There is a stretch of land along the Mississippi River situated between New Orleans and Baton Rouge that is called “Cancer Alley”. This area is exposed to high environmental pollution caused by chemicals from industries.
The Environmental Protection Agency has already highlighted such areas, labeling them at a high risk of cancer, but nothing has yet been done.
The Nicholas Institute of Duke University’s senior policy associate, Dr. Kay Jowers, said that it is known that racial and ethnic identity and poverty are related. The black people in the US account for the majority of the poor population. Fueled by racism, indigenous people were subjected to inferiority by superior colonizers. They shaped policies of who can own property and access to resources. This led to environmental injustices like subjecting minority and suppressed communities to toxic exposure.