, Volume 185, Issue 2, pp 1755-1766

Approaches to systematic assessment of environmental exposures posed at hazardous waste sites in the developing world: the Toxic Sites Identification Program

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Abstract

In the developing world, environmental chemical exposures due to hazardous waste sites are poorly documented. We describe the approach taken by the Blacksmith Institute's Toxic Sites Identification Program in documenting environmental chemical exposures due to hazardous waste sites globally, identifying sites of concern and quantifying pathways, populations, and severity of exposure. A network of local environmental investigators was identified and trained to conduct hazardous waste site investigations and assessments. To date, 2,095 contaminated sites have been identified within 47 countries having an estimated population at risk of 71,500,000. Trained researchers and investigators have visited 1,400 of those sites. Heavy metals are the leading primary exposures, with water supply and ambient air being the primary routes of exposure. Even though chemical production has occurred largely in the developed world to date, many hazardous waste sites in the developing world pose significant hazards to the health of large portions of the population. Further research is needed to quantify potential health and economic consequences and identify cost-effective approaches to remediation.