Chemical Plant Pollution Growing as Global Threat

Pesticides alone could cost $90B in sub-Saharan Africa between 2005 and 2020
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2012 2:42 PM CDT
Chemical Plant Pollution Growing as Global Threat
In this photo taken Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009, a pall of smoke rises from a major blaze at a chemical factory that recycles used chemicals and oil, in Bellville, South Africa.   (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

(Newser) – Pesticide poisoning is worsening in sub-Saharan Africa, and the tab for illnesses in the region between 2005 and 2020 could hit $90 billion, the UN warns—more than the aid available. As the production of chemicals in general skyrockets, the UN Environment Program report notes that health and the environment are being harmed, and it urges governments and industries to change the way chemicals are produced in order to stem the tide.

Chemical production is increasing particularly quickly in emerging economies, where safeguards aren't as stringent, the AP reports: Between now and 2020, chemical production is predicted to grow 25% in North America and Europe compared to 50% in the Asia-Pacific region and 40% in Africa and the Middle East. This is worrisome because, UNEP says, just a small number of the 140,000 chemicals being produced have been carefully evaluated in terms of their health and environmental impact. (Read more pesticide stories.)

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