The Stream, December 20, 2019: Pollution Kills 8.3m People in 2017; U.S. Among 10 Deadliest Countries

The Global Rundown

The United States ranks among the top 10 countries for pollution-related death according to a report by the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution. Saudi Arabia gives $140 million in loans to Ethiopia, some of which will go toward improving Ethiopia’s water supply. A new study warns that lithium from the batteries in smartphones and electric cars may be leaching into water supplies. New York works to update clean water regulations. Ninety towns in New South Wales, Australia, are at risk of running out of water, but officials are working to stave off the crisis. 

“Infrastructure is being built in a lot of places, bores are being put down, pipelines are being run, there is reverse osmosis, augmentations of existing network, reuse of existing effluent in small centres. We’re carting water now and looking to tap into alternative supplies… including Queensland.” –James McTavish, the New South Wakes Cross-Border Commissioner, in reference to efforts to avoid water crisis in 90 at-risk towns and communities in the state. A month ago, local media reported that evacuations may be necessary in some of these towns, but McTavish says each community has a plan, and that evacuation will only be considered as an “absolutely … last case scenario.” The Fifth Estate

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By The Numbers

8.3 million Estimated number of people killed by toxic air, water, land, and workplaces in 2017, according to a report by the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution. The United States ranked seventh overall for pollution-related deaths according to the report, with an estimated 197,000 fatalities. The Guardian

$140 million Amount of loans that Ethiopia will receive from Saudi Arabia for improvements to infrastructure. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office says the loans will be used to develop the country’s roads, water supply, and solar plants. Reuters

Science, Studies, and Reports

Lithium found in the batteries of smartphones, tablets, and electric cars may be tainting drinking water supply, according to a Korean study published in Nature Communications. Researchers discovered that lithium levels in waters upstream of Seoul, South Korea, contained minimal amounts of lithium, but when the river passed through Seoul, lithium levels spiked. The authors of the study say they are unsure how much of the contamination comes from technological devices, but they believe the link could be significant. Reuters

On the Radar

New York state is in the process of reforming its clean water regulations, including setting limits on the amount of toxic PFAS chemicals and 1,4-dioxane allowed in drinking water systems. The state is also considering legislation that would give water suppliers a 24-month window to update their treatment systems if excess levels of chemicals are found. Associated Press 

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