A study released in March found that almost one in four deaths globally are due to unhealthy air pollution, poor water quality, and other environmental hazard-related factors. What many do not realize is that this does not just involve dirty air or water contaminating people, but rather, non-communicable diseases that are directly springing up solely from environmental degradation.
Specifically, the World Health Organization cited air, water, soil pollution, radiation, chemical exposure, and unsafe workplaces for killing a quarter of fatalities every year, 26 percent of which are in children younger than five years old. Younger children tend to suffer from respiratory infections, and older people heart diseases, as a result of these hazards.The report called on countries to use clean technologies and provide better access to safe water and sanitation as primary preventers for disease.
Safe Water Lacking Even Here In The U.S.
While many would argue that the United States is too developed to suffer from these issues, in fact, the U.S. has been no stranger to this exact issue of late: it seems that every day, news sources report on the Flint water issue and the environmental injustice the continues to be revealed. A task force commissioned by Michigan’s governor to study the water crisis found that the government failed Flint at every level and shaped a “clear case of environmental injustice” against the African-American community there. These impacts cannot be undone, even after Flint switched over to a safer water source last autumn.
Test Subjects in an Experiment?
Many wonder if officials would have taken action more quickly if those populations affected were more affluent instead of living below the poverty line. In fact, the task force likened measuring blood levels of children affected by this crisis without actually removing the sources of lead from the environment to using these children as test subjects in an experiment.
The task force found that primary blame for the Flint water crisis lands on the Michigan Department of Environmental quality, which appeared to be strongly determined not to follow federal law mandating corrosion control for drinking water. The agency also proceeded to inform residents that the water was safe to drink when it was not.
In addition, Michigan has an emergency manager law which allows an outsider to effectively make key decisions and overrule locally elected officials. It was these individuals who decided to switch the water source to Flint River in order to save funds. They also refused to switch back after complaints that there were problems. In effect, this emergency manager law ultimately led to the crisis.
Environmental Hazard Attorneys
It’s not just companies and landowners that release pollutants into the environment, endangering communities; in some instances, local and state governments fail these communities by not protecting them from contaminated sources. At Harrell & Nowak, we’ve spent years litigating against these negligent parties, and we can be your environmental hazards lawyers. If you live in Louisiana and have been the victim of an environmental hazard, contact us today for a free consultation.