The damage to the mental and physical health of children and adults from lead, chromium and other toxic wastes has emerged as equal to the risk of malaria in three Asian countries -- India, Indonesia and the Philippines -- a new report shows.
More than 140 countries meeting in Geneva last month signed off on a pact to curb the release of toxic mercury around the world by giant coal-burning power plants as well as 13 million poor artisanal gold miners.
Each year tens of thousands of people are poisoned by toxic mercury spewed into the air, land and water by small-scale gold miners in Indonesia and other low income countries where production has soared as gold prices skyrocketed.
As developing countries from Peru to China become industrialized, millions of tons of toxic pollution are being spread around by batteries, factories and mines -- placing at least 125 million people at risk of death or disease.
The rivers of Indonesia's Kalimantan provinces seem pristine and free of the toxic stuff floating around in the Hudson and the Potomac rivers, but thousands of gold miners are pouring toxic mercury into the air.