Clean water and climate change both have serious environmental health implications.
Clean Water: More than 2.6 billion people – 40% of the world’s population – lack basic sanitation facilities, and over one billion people still use unsafe drinking water sources. This polluted water may contain chemicals known to cause cancer and other health defects. This problem is magnified by those communities situated near power and manufacturing plants that dump millions of pounds of waste into the waterways. In fact, American scientists predict that each year 7 million Americans become sick from contaminated tap water. For more information visit our clean water issue page.
Clean Air: More than 100 million Americans live in regions that fail to meet health-based smog standards. A recent study found that high smog levels in the eastern US alone cause 159,000 trips to the emergency room, 53,000 hospital admissions, and six million asthma attacks each summer. Additionally, fine soot particles, formed in complex reactions involving sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide and often emitted by power plants, cause 64,000 deaths per year in the US. In addition, studies have found that soot may cause heart attacks and arrhythmia and that the incidence of strokes and heart failure is greater in areas with high levels of soot.
Climate Change: The World Health Organization estimates that 160,000 people a year die worldwide from the effects of global warming (i.e. heat stroke, increased diseases from insects that thrive in hotter climates, malnutrition from crop destruction). This number could double by 2020. Additionally, climate change is known to cause changes in precipitation worldwide, leading to flooding and water source contamination in some areas and droughts in others, causing forest fires that may disturb the air quality many hundreds of miles away. For more information visit our climate change issue page.