Timothy Gardner

Researchers will fan out across more than 80 developing countries beginning this month to hunt out and assess many of the world’s dirtiest industrial waste sites.

The New York-based nonprofit Blacksmith Institute is training the researchers from local semi-government agencies, universities and nonprofit groups in the countries to create a database of the sites called the Global Inventory Project.

“Blacksmith is doing what no other governmental organization, NGO or nonprofit has ever even attempted,” said Jack Caravanos, a professor of environmental health at Hunter College of City University of New York.

Caravanos said the inventory is a “first step” to help governments and international organizations prioritize the clean up of waste sites that pose health threats to people including cancer risks to adults and learning disability risks to children. Asthma and other respiratory ailments are other problems millions of locals suffer at sites like abandoned metal mines in Africa and factories that made weapons or industrial chemicals in former Soviet Union states.

Concern about polluted places is growing as the world’s population swells and people in developing countries like China and India buy more goods like cars and electronics, habits that were once mostly limited to rich places like the United States and Europe.

From: Reuters NEW YORK