Science Essay

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Research in Human Ecology Boon or Bane? The Environmental and Health Impacts of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Francis O. Adeola Department of Sociology University of New Orleans New Orleans, LA 70148 USA1 Abstract This article examines the relationship between environmental pollution and health problems affecting human and non-human species. Specifically, it reviews existing evidence on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) — a class of synthetic organo-chlorine chemicals and products introduced after World War II — and their adverse health effects on society and wildlife. Their fundamental characteristics, including toxicity, persistence, ability to migrate long distances, and bioaccumulation within the food chain, are presented. The reactions of international community, especially the U.N. Stockholm Convention on POPs recently signed by 122 countries, are discussed. The future needs of substitutes to harmful chemicals and mitigation of health problems already caused are discussed as well. The use of precautionary principles as a guide to public health and environmental policies is emphasized. Keywords: bioaccumulation, environment, grasshoppers effect, human health, organochlorines, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), precautionary principle, toxic chemicals, risks ple’s well-being (Yassi et al. 2001). Polluted environments increase the probability or risk of exposure to contaminants, disease vectors, and other agents that may induce illnesses both for human and non-human species. POPs represent a significant threat to the environment and health of all organisms including humans. The purpose of this paper is to address the health and environmental problems related to synthetic toxic chemical compounds, especially, the key POPs of increasing concern at the local, national, and global levels. The fundamental properties of these chemicals and

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