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Toxic Chemicals

Toxic chemicals of many kinds have become a global issue affecting human and environmental health across the boundaries of countries, regions, and economies. In the developing world, the impact of chemicals on the lives of poor people is growing, as production of chemicals—as well as processing and formulation—steadily increases. In terms of human health, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are of particular concern because they can move great distances from their source, degrade very slowly in the environment, and accumulate in wildlife and humans. Other substances prevalent in the environment are heavy metals such as mercury (from coal-fired power plants, industrial plants, medical equipment, and mining), lead (from leaded gasoline, consumer products), and cadmium (from batteries, sewage waste, fertilizers).

 

Toxic chemicals, including POPs, contribute to both acute and long-term impacts on human health, and disproportionately affect the poor. Pesticide poisonings, for example, can occur through direct exposure, when pesticide drums and containers are reused for water and food in poor communities across the globe, exposing children and others to the effects of the chemicals.

 

At a global level, the World Bank is engaged in ongoing work on Persistent Organic Pollutants through a program assisting our client countries in protecting human and environmental health from POPs throughout the globe. Analytical work and studies within the Bank include an investigation of the health impacts of pesticides in Andean farming communities in Peru, blood monitoring studies in Vietnam and China, and breast milk monitoring studies in Mexico. Results from these studies will allow countries like China and Mexico to be better equipped for the design of successful interventions and solutions. At the project level, through its safeguards policies, the Bank is working to reduce the impact of pesticides (including DDT) and other chemicals in its country work programs. Furthermore, in collaboration with the GEF, the Bank is working with client countries to develop alternatives to termiticides (e.g. China), and safely manage stockpiles of POPs (e.g. Moldova). Through partnerships such as the Africa Stockpiles program, the Bank is helping client countries clear all obsolete pesticide stocks from Africa and put in place measures to help prevent their recurrence.

 

 

Analytical Studies, Research and Toolkits

Project Reports

 

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Last updated: 2010-06-21




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