We live in a world where small problems camouflage bigger one. In our day to day life we are so busy in solving our small problems that we intentionally or unintentionally over look big problems that may endanger human as a species. IMS Ghaziabad gave the opportunity to its students to look beyond this beautifully crafted canvas called modern society and peek into the world they have never seen before. This opportunity was a session on “Toxic pollution in India: The Unseen Public Health Menace” organized by ASPEN centre at WWF Auditorium Lodi Estate, New Delhi. The session was addressed by H. Conrad Meyer III, chairman of the Board, Blacksmith Institute, Richard Fuller, President, Blacksmith Institute and Moderated by Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO, WWF India.
The session was conducted to bring into focus the issue of toxic pollution which is directly or indirectly related to the modern life that we relish. The facts presented were shocking. They highlighted that 125 Indian sites were found where chromium contamination had affected 2.6 million people, while in 96 sites, pollution caused by Lead had negatively impacted the health of 1.25 million people. Mining and ore processing sector were identified as the top source of toxic contamination in India, followed by chemical manufacturing, smelting and textiles. We as Indian citizens are a part of rapidly developing economy and have big issues such as poverty, inequality, employment etc, which we have to solve ourselves. But at the same time we cannot ignore the fact that toxic pollution is a major public health and environmental issue and affects India as much as it does other developing countries. As per the World Health Organization, toxic pollution, chemicals and wastes constitute an under-recognized global health hazard and one-fifth of the global burden of disease is attributable to environmental health problems. Mr. Conrad Meyer III while addressing the session said that toxic pollution was ‘a global epidemic’. While referring to 2013 study on hotspots across India, Mr. Fuller asserted that “exposure to potent neurotoxins such as Lead and hex chromium directly affects immune responses, increases the threat of cancer and cardiovascular disease, and may even cause disability. Also, contrary to common perception, the main sources of exposure are not international Multi-National Corporations, but smaller local companies, abandoned waste sites and artisanal units Mr. Meyer hailed steps taken by the Indian government to deal with this menace and said that they were positive and strong steps in right direction. After the session was over students got the opportunity to talk to Mr. Fuller and share my concerns on this matter.