"This study highlights a major and previously under-recognized global health problem in lower and middle income countries," said Philip Landrigan, MD, MSc, Dean for Global Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and one of the authors of the study. "The next step is targeting interventions such as cleaning up the sites and minimizing the exposure of humans in each of these countries where toxic chemicals are greatly present."
Additionally, children and women of child-bearing age made up two-thirds of the population in the study. "If a woman is pregnant, the fetus may be exposed to these toxic chemicals," said Dr. Chatham-Stephens. "This data is relevant because the prenatal to early childhood period is the time when individuals are very vulnerable to some toxic exposures, such as lead's impact on the developing nervous system."
Previous studies have shown that lead can cause neurological, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular damage, while those also exposed to high levels of chromium have a greater chance of developing lung cancer. "Our research shows that chemical pollutants from toxic waste sites are insufficiently studied in lower and middle income countries and that disease and death caused by these chemicals can contribute to loss of life," said Dr. Chatham-Stephens.
|Contact: Renatt Brodsky|
The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine