October 23, 2018
Coimbatore : A three-day Global Cleanup Congress 2018, which is under way in the city, has expressed fear of extinction of humans from the universe in the next 100 to 150 years, if the risk posed by unsafe environment was not addressed soon.
The congress is being hosted jointly by CRC CARE, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, University of New Castle, Australia, and Global CARE to sensitise people about the challenges posed by pollution and contamination.
Prof Ravi Naidu, the brain behind the congress and renowned contamination scientist and managing director of CRC CARE, said unsafe environment posed greater risk to health than climate change.
“We are facing a challenge that is bigger than climate change. Yet industry and governments are only just beginning to take it seriously,” he said. Quoting a WHO report, Naidu said one in 12 human deaths were linked to exposure to unsafe environment globally, with air pollution linked to 7 million and another 5 million deaths to chemical exposure.
This compared with just over 2 million deaths due to cancer, 1 million from diabetes and another million from HIV/AIDS, Naidu said.
There were an estimated 5 million potentially contaminated sites which threatened the well being of people and ecosystems globally, he said. Only less than 10 per cent of such sites were cleaned up so far.
The human capital and investment required to clean up the contaminated sites would turn into a big industry, providing jobs to lakhs of people, he said.
European Chemicals Agency has listed more than 1.44 lakh chemicals as hazardous, which is growing by about 2,000 annually, Naidu added.
About 300 scientists and environmentalists of more than 20 countries, including Australia, the UK, Europe, the US and New Zealand are participating in the event.
About the hotspot and death rate in India, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University Dean S Mahimairaja said there was no exact data in India.
However, a study conducted by the university revealed that disposal of tannery waste has impacted 50,000 hectares of land in Vellore district in Tamil Nadu.
Measures had already been initiated to create awareness among people about chromium contamination in the soil, and the report had been sent to the State Government.