CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment

Media Release

Call for global action on ‘toxins without borders’

September 16, 2015 – for immediate release

A call for worldwide action to staunch the growing tide of toxic contaminants flowing across the world’s borders and throughout the Earth system was made at the CleanUp 2015 conference in Melbourne today.

A warning that billions tonnes of man-made chemical emissions were now being released each year, with grave potential consequences for human and environmental health, was issued by Professor Ravi Naidu, the convener of CleanUp and managing director of Australia’s CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE).

Prof. Naidu called for worldwide action to prevent a potential wave of disease and ill-health spreading internationally, through globalCARE, the Australian-led initiative to investigate and try to solve the threat posed by the universal spread of contaminants such as heavy metals, air pollution, pesticides, volatile chemicals and hormone disruptors.

“Man-made contamination is now to be found almost everywhere in the world we look – from the upper atmosphere and the highest mountains to the deep oceans, from remote atolls to the Amazonian jungle, from the north pole to the south, to our farmlands and especially our inner cities – which are the most polluted places of all,” he said.

“A conservatively-estimated 250 billion tonnes of chemical and material emissions are dispersing around the planet on the wind, in water, in soil, in wildlife, in the food chain, in trade goods – and in people themselves.

“Now, more than ever before, we need to see contamination as a global issue. One which affects every region, every country, and each citizen directly and indirectly throughout their lives.

“When it comes to contamination, there are no longer any borders,” Prof.Naidu said.

There was mounting evidence in the medical science literature of accumulated health impacts related to this contamination, including pandemics of cancers, neurological and mental disorders, reproductive and gender problems and metabolic disorders of the digestive system, he added.

The World Health Organisation and UN Environment Program had concluded one death in twelve globally may be linked to this chemical impact on human health, making it one of the world’s leading causes of death.

“Once certain contaminants affect you, it can lead to a slow and painful death. For example, it is thought as many as two million cancer deaths worldwide a year may be contaminant related.

“It is also likely that the scale of these risky emissions will double by mid-century, in line with growth in the human population, its demand for resources and with growth in the world economy,” Prof Naidu said.

“This is why we need to act now – to prevent this happening. An ounce of prevention is better than a tonne of cure, as the old saying goes.”

Prof. Naid said globalCARE was an international science-based initiative to define, quantify, set limits to, help clean up and devise new ways to curb the growing impact of chemical contamination on human health and the biosphere.

“It is a worldwide alliance of leading scientific, government, industry and community organisations and individuals dedicated to making ours a cleaner, healthier and safer world.”

globalCARE is in the process of forming several international nodes to tackle the issue, with early starters in Australasia, West Africa and south Asia.

“But we are appealing to scientists, to industry, to government health care and environmental officials to join hands and make this a truly international effort to defeat contamination of our world.

“Given the scale of the human chemical impact on the Earth System this is a task greater than any country, than any scientific budget.

“It calls for collaboration and knowledge-sharing across the whole of humanity.

“I am proud to say that globalCARE is playing its part in this process.”

CleanUp 2015, the 6th International Contaminated Site Remediation Conference, is being held at the Crown Conference Centre, Melbourne, from September 13-16, 2015.

Media are welcome to attend and interview participants. The full program is at:

More information:
Prof. Ravi Naidu, Managing Director, CRC CARE and globalCARE, +61 407 720 257
Adam Barclay, Communications Manager, CRC CARE, +61 429 779 228
Julian Cribb, CRC CARE, +61 418 639 245

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