Pollution kills millions of people around the world every year, but it has become clear that it is not just about well-known industrial or car pollution. Air and water pollution have other causes such as heating with firewood or extracting gold. These little-known pollution sources are particularly relevant in developing countries. A comprehensive study of the environmental pollution has revealed even more dangerous sources of pollution. In developing countries, various forms of pollution are now thought to be responsible for high levels of human mortality: on average, 25-40% of deaths are caused due to high levels of pollution.
Gold mining, which uses extremely toxic mercury, poisons 10 to 15 million people working in small mining companies every year. Around 1,000 tons of mercury are consumed in gold mining worldwide each year, representing 30% of total anthropogenic emissions. Of these, 95% are emitted directly into the environment, with all the consequences for the environment, people, and the economy. For every 1 gram of gold extracted from these mines, 2 grams of mercury are released into the environment. Gold mining without direct causes of death is notorious for environmental disasters. Although other technologies exist, mercury and cyanide are most used to extract gold from ore, as these are the cheapest methods.
Dirty Drinking Water
The dependence of the humankind on water is increasing. Each person consumes about 20 liters per day for direct use such as drinking or food preparation, as well as additional 50-150 liters per day for other needs such as hygiene, industry, and others. Rural communities have traditionally taken water from rivers or wells, but pollution and industrial growth are contributing to increasing water pollution. Today, a one third part of humanity already lives in so-called water stress zones where water can no longer be used directly and must be purified. At least 5 million deaths each year, especially in developing countries, are directly related to water pollution.
Rainwater brings the pollutants into the wells, so groundwater pollution may only become apparent after a few decades. For this reason, groundwater pollution is mentioned as one of the critical. Groundwater accounts for the majority of directly drinking water, but only 6% of all water on Earth. This assessment includes the ice caps and glaciers of the peaks, and if we do not assess them, only 0.3% of the world’s water can be used directly to meet human needs. Not so much at current pollution rates.
Indoor Air Pollution
In the developing countries, the main cause of indoor air pollution is fuel burned for heating purposes: coal, wood, paper, garbage, etc. In this way, in India and China, homes receive energy: over 80% in cities and even about 90% in villages. In such a home, the effects of pollution on the body are such that four hours spent in a room where food is prepared works the same as smoked 2 packs of cigarettes. Mortality from ambient air without adequate ventilation is statistically equivalent in volume to malnutrition, water pollution, or AIDS.