Author Interviews, Environmental Risks, NYU, Ophthalmology / 08.12.2017 Interview with: Cassandra Thiel, PhD Assistant Professor in the Departments of Population Health and Opthamology at NYU Langone Health, and Assistant Professor at NYU Wagner and NYU Tandon School of Engineering What is the background for this study? Response: Everyone is concerned about the health impacts of climate change, from the United Nations to the Lancet. While other industries are trying to monitor and minimize their environmental footprint, healthcare services have been largely overlooked. Yet, the US healthcare sector emits 10% of the US’s total greenhouse gases. Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed procedures in the world. In the US, these surgeries generate large quantities of waste due to the use of single-use, disposable materials and supplies. However, at Aravind Eye Care System in southern India, the outcomes for this procedure are the same as in the US, but the materials they use are mostly reusable. This study assessed the environmental footprint of Aravind’s surgical process, to determine how their process design and material selection affected their emissions. (more…)
Author Interviews, Environmental Risks, Global Health / 20.10.2017 Interview with: Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc, FAAP Dean for Global Health Professor of Preventive Medicine and Pediatrics Arnhold Institute for Global Health Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
  1.  Pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death in the world today.  It is responsible for 9 million deaths per year – 16% of all deaths worldwide – three times more deaths than AIDS, malaria and TB combined.  These numbers are growing from year to year as pollution in many parts of the world increase.
  2. Pollution is highly unjust. 92% of all pollution-related deaths occur in low-and middle- income countries, and in the United States and other high-income countries pollution-related disease and death are concentrated among minorities and the poor.  Think Flint.
  3. Pollution is very costly.  Pollution-related diseases cause productivity losses that reduce GDP in low- and middle-income countries by up to 2% per year. Pollution-related disease also results in health-care costs that are responsible for 1.7% of annual health spending in high-income countries like the US and for up to 7% of health spending in heavily polluted and rapidly developing low- and middle-income countries.
  4. Pollution is neglected and its control is seriously underfunded.
  5. The good news is that despite its great magnitude and long-standing neglect, pollution can be controlled, and pollution prevention is highly cost-effective. Pollution is not the inevitable consequence of economic development. High-income and some middle-income countries have enacted legislation and issued regulations mandating clean air and clean water, established chemical safety policies, and curbed their most flagrant forms of pollution. As a result, our air and water are now cleaner, the blood lead concentrations of our children have decreased by more than 90%, our rivers no longer catch fire, our worst hazardous waste sites have been remediated, and many of our cities are less polluted and more livable. Health has improved and people are living longer. High-income countries have achieved this progress while increasing GDP by nearly 250%. The claim that pollution control stifles economic growth, kills jobs and drags down the economy is false and has repeatedly been proven to be untrue. Pollution control is a winnable battle, and the control of pollution will return billions of dollars to the economies of countries around the world as it has already in the United States.