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Severe Toxic Impacts on Women in Developing Countries

Women’s eNews discusses the different types of pollution risks in developing countries and how the conditions are getting worse for the women. The World Health Organization’s research states that environmental factors are responsible for twenty-three percent of global disease.  According to Maria Neira, director of Public Health and Environment for the World Health Organization, addressing this pollution will prevent the deaths of six million women per year.

One of the many examples of pollution risks is black oil spillover in a green field in Nigeria where women, often barefoot, harvest cassava root. Not only are the women walking through oil, it also contaminates their water supply. Their water has nine hundred times more the acceptable level of carcinogen benzene.

Industrial production creates about 100,000 synthetic substances that can be harmful to women. When women are near these chemicals it can seep into their body and cause life-long health problems. As Molly M. Ginty reports, these chemicals include “endocrine disruptors” such as the pesticide atrazine, which interfere with hormone signaling, and “persistent organic pollutants,” organic compounds that resist breakdown, such as the hydrocarbons found in auto exhaust.

Compared to women in developed countries, women in developing countries face greater health risks. These risks are linked to issues of greater pollution and less regulation.

Source: Molly M. Ginty, “Pollution Risks Worse for Developing World Women”Women’s eNews,  May 20th 2013, http://womensenews.org/story/environment/130518/pollution-risks-worse-developing-world-women.

Student Researcher: Kayla Silva (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Debora Paterniti (Sonoma State University)