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"We're All Exposed and We're All at Risk." That story and more in the latest edition of "This Week in Water"[ Show/Hide Transcript ]

Pollution Needs Be Addressed as a World Health Problem

Air, water, and soil pollution are killing more people in the world each year than all wars and violence. A new study published in the The Lancet, a British medical journal, shows that about 9 million people died prematurely from exposure to toxic chemicals in 2015. The study is the first effort ever to determine the number of deaths from all forms of pollution. The morbidity rate may be even higher because some places on earth are not monitoring pollution, and some potential toxins are being ignored.

The report notes that of the 5,000 new chemicals that have been dispersed over the planet since 1950, less than half have been tested for toxicity. In other words, there may be deaths caused by pollutants that we do not yet know about. While all people are exposed, the authors note that the effects of pollutants are seen most in the young and the poor.

Some startling statistics: the number of people killed by pollution each year is 1 and half times greater than those killed by smoking; 3 times the number of those killed by tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria combined; and 15 times more than the number of humans killed by wars and violence.

The largest category of deadly pollutants is air contamination from factories and vehicles, but hazards are also found in water supplies that lead to infectious diseases. The report which took two-years and involved more than 40 international researchers, concludes that much of the world’s pollution can be controlled and related diseases prevented. But it will take leadership, resources and clear strategies. So, it’s timely that in December, the U.N. Environment Assembly will take place in Kenya, and its title this year: “Towards a Pollution Free Planet.” Participants will, among other things, outline realistic steps to address pollution to protect human health.

27-year Study Confirms Remarkable Decline of Insects

If you like to eat nutritious fruits and vegetables you should thank an insect. And, if you like to eat fish like salmon you should thank a fly. Those were the sentiments expressed by Scott Black, executive director of an environmental group, known as The Xerces Society, in the wake of a study showing a massive decrease in flying insects in nature reserves in western Germany. Researchers who have been collecting the critters for 27 years have shown a remarkable decline of nearly 80 percent. They measured the overall weight of the bugs, and not the number or diversity of different species.

The results of the study were published last week in the journal PLOS One, but they have not yet determined what caused the decline. The researchers found no evidence that it was caused by climate change, habitat loss, pesticides or pollutants. And so far, puzzled researchers have not found a corresponding decline in insect eating birds or plants that depend on the bugs for pollination. More research will be needed, but one scientist noted that unfortunately, there are no studies showing that insects are doing well.

Proposed Pipeline Will Cross Hundreds of Rivers in Mid-Atlantic States

It may be the pipeline project you’ve never heard of. But for residents of Virginia and North Carolina, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline represents, either an environmental catastrophe or a major economic opportunity. On Friday, the 13th, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a permit for the 600-mile pipeline that could cost 5 billion dollars. It is planned to deliver natural gas by running from West Virginia through Virginia and into eastern North Carolina.

In Virginia, the pipeline will cross about 700 rivers and streams, and in North Carolina, about 320 waterways. A spokesperson for the Sierra Club told the North Carolina Independent Weekly that the pipe will release methane every step of the way. In addition, Hope Taylor, executive Director of Clean Water for North Carolina, told the Staunton News Leader that the pipeline would go through communities that are 60 percent African-American and 95 percent Native American. The pipeline still must be approved by state environmental agencies.

Super Typhoon Hitting Japan May Affect Weather in U.S.

They are calling it a super typhoon—or the equivalent of a Category 4 to 5 hurricane—and it’s is predicted to hit Tokyo, Japan on Monday, October 23rd. Recently Typhoon Lan, as it's called, had sustained winds of up to 150 miles per hour and gusts near 180. And at one point its eye was 50 miles in diameter. As it passes the greater Tokyo area, with its nearly 38 million inhabitants, Lan is expected to weaken, but still be very destructive.

For those in the U.S., Typhoon Lan could affect the Jetstream, and as Mashable reports, after a strong typhoon moves into the northern Pacific, weather systems over North America tend to become more amplified spawning storms and outbreaks of cold air.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center Is Out with Its 2017-18 Winter Forecast

PrecipitationOutlook_Winter2017_620 NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is out with its 2017-18 winter forecast for temperature, precipitation and drought. And, for the second year in a row, La Niña is poised to be a major factor. As far as temperature, they’re forecasting above average temps for the southern two-thirds of the continental U.S. and the east coast, as well as Hawaii and western Alaska. It could be chillier in Washington state and along the Canadian border.

Looking at precipitation, drier conditions are very likely along the entire southern U.S. and the odds are that northern states like Montana and the Dakotas will be wetter than average. Although that sounds like good news for the northern plains, which have been exceptional drought, forecasters say it won’t offer much relief because the ground in winter is often frozen. As for California, the huge snowfall last year might be a distant memory because models indicate it will be less wet and a bit warmer.

TemperatureOutlook_Winter2017_620 (1) That said, while NOAA makes long-term predictions about temperature and precipitation, it doesn’t make any claims about the frequency or severity of actual storms. In a press release they explain that even though the last two winters had above-average temperatures many parts of the country saw significant snowstorms. It’s difficult to predict snow events more than a week in advance because they depend upon the strength and track of winter storms. The Climate Prediction Center will update its forecast in mid-November with news about La Niña, and other weather-making patterns.

Music Credits: The Fixer, Funkygroove  | Qin, Dr.Guonake  | Jah Moon, Sun Ska Riddim Originale  |  Scott Holmes, Cat and Mouse  |  Grégoire Lourme, Rain  |  Maze, Dark Clouds  |  Creative Commons

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