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Pollution

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Summary

Daily, two million tons of sewage, industrial and agricultural waste product are emitted into local water sources.1 Human waste product is the leading water pollutant — 2.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation facilities.2 Twelve percent of the global population practices open defecation.3 The United Nations World Water Assessment Programme estimates that the widespread safe storage and proper water treatment could eliminate over 120 million disability adjusted life years — avoiding $11.4 billion in health expenses being generated as a result of water-related issues today.4 Only 44 percent of wastewater — industrial, agricultural and human — is treated and reused, the remaining 56 percent is released as wastewater or agricultural drainage. Globally, 20 percent of the water released is untreated.5 Lower-middle income nations utilize just 28 percent of their wastewater. In developing, low income nations only 8 percent of wastewater is reused.6 In terms of air pollution, greenhouse gases, hazardous chemicals, smoke, industrial pollution, pollen and exhaust can form layers of smog — particularly over cities and metropolitan regions — all of which can raise a number of health and environmental issues. In 2016, 197 nations agreed to reduce their usage of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), emissions produced by machinery like refrigerators and air conditioners, under the Kigali Agreement. This amendment to the Montreal Protocol is projected to prevent 80 billion metric tons of emissions over the next 30 years.7 HFCs, though they account for a small percentage of all greenhouse gas emissions, are some of the most harmful and are significant contributors to climate change.8 In 2016, the world produced over 2 billion tons of solid waste.9 Research shows that some developing cities spend 20 to 50 percent of their annual operating budget on solid waste disposal, though many of these cities still struggle to process waste safely and avoid water and soil contamination.10 The majority of such waste is transferred to landfills, yet just half is comprised of organic substances such as food.11 Landfills are monitored waste facilities with numerous “cells” designed to hold and contain waste for decades. Each cell is lined with a protective sheet that prevents waste and contaminants from entering the local water supply. Active landfills are monitored, and after closing can continue to be monitored for an additional 30 years. Methane gas and leachate — the liquid waste produced during decomposition — are piped and drained out of the cells to be control burned and treated, respectively.12 Show References
1 https://www.pacinst.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/water_quality_facts_and_stats3.pdf 2 Ibid 3 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.STA.ODFC.ZS 4 https://www.pacinst.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/water_quality_facts_and_stats3.pdf 5 https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000247553 6 Ibid 7 https://www.epa.gov/ozone-layer-protection/recent-international-developments-under-montreal-protocol 8 Ibid 9 http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/urbandevelopment/brief/solid-waste-management 10 http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2016/03/03/waste-not-want-not---solid-waste-at-the-heart-of-sustainable-development 11 https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/06/26-trillion-pounds-of-garbage-where-does-the-worlds-trash-go/258234/ 12 https://www.advanceddisposal.com/for-mother-earth/education-zone/learn-about-landfills.aspx
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