Wearing the effects of industrial pollution? (Part 2)

Been thinking about the effects of the textiles you all are wearing? Let me unravel some of the effects of textile production in this blog.

Firstly, eutrophication. This refers to “the over-enrichment of water by nutrients such as nitrogen phosphorus” (World Resources Institute , n.d.). Textile production releases ammonium nitrate and triple superphosphate into the environment (refer to my previous post). Figure 1 shows the environmental impacts of yarn production per 100kg of yarn. 

screen-shot-2016-10-01-at-5-43-42-pm

Figure 1: environmental impacts of yarn production per 100kg of yarn (Retrieved from van der Were and Turunen,2008)

Another impact is water pollution. Figure 3 shows the environmental impacts on water supply due to textile. Harmful wastewater are being released into the environment. Have a look at the video below to catch some glimpse on the problems faced by Textile Towns in China.

Drawing into the context of Singapore, many of our clothing are made of cotton, due to the temperate climate. “Cotton production (mades up) 18% of worldwide pesticide use and 25% of total insecticide use” (The True Cost, 2015). During period of high rainfall and other activity, the pesticide and insecticide will be washed into water bodies, and is harmful to human health.

Notable here is that textile production not only harms the environment, but there is also a direct impact on the health of the people residing in the towns, which are often neglected by the profit-driven textile industry.

This points down to one of the driving forces of pollution in the textile industry. To minimise costs, the textile industries uses inefficient production methods and also dispose the waste conveniently into nearby water sources.

To sum up, textile industries have negative impacts on the environment such as eutrophication and pollution of water sources. It is estimated that “17 to 20% of industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and treatment” and this shows the extent and severity of textile industrial pollution (Jackson, 2014). This shows that efforts have to be in place of textile industrial pollution, which will be covered in my next post. Do stay with me for this three-part series.

References

Jackson, J. (2014, October 6). Assessing hte Environmental Imapct of the Fashion World . Retrieved October 1, 2016, from http://www.environmentalleader.com/2014/10/06/assessing-the-environmental-impact-of-the-fashion-world/

The True Cost . (2015). Environmental Impact . Retrieved October 1, 2016, from http://truecostmovie.com/learn-more/environmental-impact/

van der Werf, H. M., & Turunen, L. (2008, January ). The environmental impacts of the production of hemp and flax textile yarn. Industrial Crops and Products , 27(1), 1-10.

World Resources Institute . (n.d.). About Eutrophication . Retrieved OCtober 1, 2016, from http://www.wri.org/our-work/project/eutrophication-and-hypoxia/about-eutrophication

Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdrHIAISsvA

Wearing the effects of industrial pollution? (Part 1)

Recess week sure ended fast, and school term is starting again tomorrow (glad that i do not have school on odd weeks Monday). I am back from all the project meetings, revisions and catching up this week.

Let me begin today’s post with a short video first.

What’s your impression after watching this video? We are wearing products that caused huge amounts of industrial pollution right? Large quantities of dyes and chemicals disposed untreated in the running water, remains of the cottons left untouched piling on the land. Textile industry are indeed polluting our environment, and yet we are just buying clothes without knowing the production process of the clothes we are wearing. This has been exacerbated by the growing “purchasing power and needs” of consumers since industrial revolution (Muthu, 2014).

Below is the simple product life cycle of the textile products.

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-10-41-11-am

Figure 1: Generalised product life cycle model of textile products (Muthu,2014) 

Throughout the entire life cycle process, we can see that there is high demand for inputs such as usage of land (building production facilities, disposal at landfill), freshwater for processing and cooling, “inventories for maintenance of machines” and “large amount of pesticides, fertilisers, chemicals and other inventories” (Muthu, 2014). The high demand for energy sources and the use of chemicals in textile production are significant contributor to the environmental conditions in areas such as Bangladesh, as mentioned in the video.

Aside from the water and land pollution from the life cycle process, the usage of pesticides, fertilisers and other chemicals also have secondary impacts on the environment (ibid.). In the scenario of high rainfall, these artificial chemicals will be washed into water bodies and cause heightened water pollution in the area. Look at figure 2, the amount of chemicals used in Central Europe for textile production are high, and when period of high rainfall occur, the impacts of surface runoff will be drastic in impacting the water quality. Some common impacts include eutrophication and acidification (van der Werf and Turunen, 2008).

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-10-48-26-am

Figure 2: Inputs used (in kg/ha) for field production of Central European hemp, Baby hemp and flax (ibid.)

Intrigued by the effects of textile industrial pollution? Stay tune next week where i will be unravelling the harmful effects of textile production.

References

Muthu, S. (2014). The textile supply chaim and its environmental impact . Science Direct .

van der Werf, H. M., & Turunen, L. (2008, Januart ). The environmental impacts of the production of hemp and flax textile yarn. Industrial Crops and Products , 27(1), 1-10.

Video sourcehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXTIfcfzSnE

Cognitive function hindered by mercury emitted from industrial process?!

Today marks the start of recess week and i guess we will all be busy “resting” HAHA! So to start my “rest”, i was browsing through some news article where i found one that’s interesting.

It’s common belief that aerobic exercise (or exercise in general) improves cognitive function. However,  this is (just recently) proven to be not the case for those staying near industrial polluted areas where their cognitive function has been hindered by the methylmercury exposure, especially for “adults with prenatal exposure to metylmercury” (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, 2016). “Mercury emitted from industrial pollution in the air than falls into the water where it is chemically converted to methyl mercury before its accumulation in fish”, which is then consumed by humans especially those in the study area — Faroe Island (ibid.). Bioaccumulation and biomagnification takes place when the pollutants move up the trophic levels (illustrated in the illustration below).

Figure 1: Biomagnification when moving up the trophic level

For your info, the image shows some types of fishes that shows high levels of mercury content (hence not suitable for both pregnant mothers and other people).

Figure 2: Fishes that are high in mercury level

This is especially significant in this period, following the recent spread of Zika virus in Singapore and other region that impacts the health of the children, if the mother is bitten by a virus-carrying mosquito.

As such, following these two examples of the importance of prenatal health care, I think that its important to create a safe and healthy environment for the pregnant mothers and babies. This can be done using a top-down approach such as legislation in place to restrict/eradicate the emission of harmful pollutants such as the mercury as well as technology advancement in converting the harmful pollutants into a useful source of energy (recycling/ reusing of waste products) to minimise the emissions. (More will be shared in my later posts).

Furthermore, these pollutants are ingested unknowingly by the mothers (as well as other humans), hence making the prevention of ingesting such pollutants to be futile. More education and public awareness should be placed into the “broadcasting” of the harmful effects of such harmful pollutants, and educate the industrial plant owners on the potential health effects that they themselves will be exposed to too.

So let’s stop emitting harmful industrial pollutants and recognise more effort should be placed into reducing the harmful emissions from the industrial plants. These efforts should not only come from the government and the institutions, but also from the industrial plants and technological advancement firms.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . (2016, August 27). Transmission and risks . Retrieved September 17, 2016 , from http://www.cdc.gov/zika/transmission/index.html

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. (2016, September 16). Brain benefits of aerobic exercise lost to mercury exposure. Retrieved September 17, 2016 , from ScienceDaily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160916120631.htm

Picture Credits

Figure 1: http://relaxandjourney.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Mercury-sea-food.gif

Figure 2: https://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/images/high-mercury-fish.jpg

Reviewing “The politics of industrial pollution in rural China” (Part 2)

Following my previous post, this post will be discussing on the politics of action — the strategies that can be implemented by the individuals, communities and civil society to combat pollution.

Primarily, it stems from developing a ‘ecological consciousness’ among the people (Tilt, 2013). But urban China is “experiencing dynamic environmentalism but no coherent ‘environmental movement’ ” (Stalley and Yang, 2006).

From the individual perspective, ‘environmental movement’ usually is not successful when groups of people come together and work towards a common goal on eradicating and minimising pollution  (O’Brien, 2002). This is useful, in my opinion, as larger community will be “pressured into action” when large groups of people protest together, and these groups of people could be their employees or potential employees, through ‘rightful resistance’ (O’Brien and Li, 2006) .

Looking from the Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other civil society perspectives, they play a critical role in anti-pollution movement. While efforts are put in place to minimise their “arms” in environmental control such as registering with government agency, these NGOs are “useful in polling information and resources among activists (Yang, 2005).despite having little success in “influencing policy outcomes” (Tang and Zhan, 2008). NGOs and other civil society have stronger influence to me, as they have the monetary influence and human resources to minimise industrial pollution in China, and in other countries. For example, there is a rise in anti-pollution lawsuits in China, probably but not only by the NGOs’ and their actions.

In conclusion, my take on this article is that while individual effort is minute, a joined effort will be very much useful in reducing industrial pollution, as well as other forms of pollution.

References

O’Brien, K.J. 2002. Collective action in the Chinese countryside. The China Journal, 48, 139–54.

O’Brien, K.J. and L.J. Li. 2006. Rightful resistance in rural China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Stalley, P. and D.N. Yang. 2006. An emerging environmental movement in China? The China Quarterly, 186, 333–56.

Tang, S.Y. and X.Y. Zhan. 2008. Civic environmental NGOs, civil society and democratisation in China. Journal of Development Studies, 44(3), 425–48.

Tilt, B. (2013). The politics of industrial pollution in rural China. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 1147-1164.

Yang, G.B. 2005. Environmental NGOs and institutional dynamics in China. The China Quarterly, 181, 46–66.

Reviewing “the politics of industrial pollution in rural China” (Part 1)

For the subsequent posts, we will be using rural China as our case study where I will be discussing about the politics of industrial pollution in rural China using the article entitled “The politics of industrial pollution in rural China”.

Rapid industrial expansion in China since the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961) has resulted in catastrophic outcome where the products are of poor quality and is useless for usage (Tilt, 2013). Following which, the era of Reform and Opening also boosted the social and economic changes in China (ibid.).

Figure 1: employees working for a steel industry 

To kick start the analysis, I will first discussed about the politics of knowledge in China. To put it simply, this is the inequality of knowledge between the rural villages and the authorities and industries.

There is an unfair access to information between the relevant parties. For example, the rural villagers are unaware of the air and water pollution level that they are exposed to. In the article, it is mentioned that the reason stem from the difficulty in accessing environmental monitoring data.

However, in my opinion, i feel that even if the villagers are aware and educated on the pollution level that they are residing in, nothing much can be done to help improve their living conditions. In general, these villagers are likely to be employed in these polluting industries, and is primarily their source of livelihood (Figure 1). While they understand the risk they are putting themselves in, human as “sensory beings” as mentioned in the article, will only visualise and feel risk when they are able to use their senses in visualising the risk. More often than not, the most harmful pollutants are too small to be seen by naked eye and hence the villagers are unwilling to believe in this risk.

I will be looking at the topic on politics on action in my next post. So stay tune.

References

Tilt, B. (2013). The politics of industrial pollution in rural China. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 1147-1164.

Credits

Figure 1: http://moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2010/henricartierbresson/assets/photos/000/000/199/199_lg.jpg

Interesting read — magnetic waste in brain and industrial air pollution?

I just came across an interesting article. It never occured to me that Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases are affected by industrial air pollution. I mean that’s not the common health effects on human that we are familiar with. I began reading this article with much interest and showed more thoughts and concerns.

It is found that magnetite in urban areas such as United Kingdom and Mexico City has an abundance in airborne magnetite. This relates to me as Singapore, being a 100% urbanised country might be exposed to as much magnetite as the afore-mentioned countries. I think it is of particular concern that the magnetite will bioaccumulate and biomagnify in the brain and that the fact that nanoparticles in the industrial magnetite will be able to make their way into the brain tissues.

While i do not know the concentration of airborne magnetite in Singapore (not sure if it is even present due to lack of research) nor do i know the awareness of such health risk in my community, it is undoubtedly true that Singapore is increasingly gearing up to prepare for the influx of neurodegenerative diseases through education for the public on the responses to take when in contact with a neurodegenerative patient.

Airborne magnetite is 150 nanometers or smaller in diameter, even smaller in size than PM2.5. This is particular dangerous as “fine particles tend to stay longer in the air than heavier particles” (Bliss Air, n.d.).

Singapore is taking efforts to reduce fine particles in the air “which can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems” such as compressive fuel quality regulations  (MEWR, 2015). While the magnetite in the air prove to be a huge concern in a 100% urbanised Singapore, I am glad that efforts are done in the long term to minimise the impacts on human health.

Reference 

Bliss Air . (n.d.). What is PM2.5 and Why You Should Care. Retrieved September 6, 2016, from https://blissair.com/what-is-pm-2-5.htm

Price, M. (2016, Sept 5). Industrial air pollution leaves magnetic waste in the brain . Retrieved Sept 6, 2016, from http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/09/industrial-air-pollution-leaves-magnetic-waste-brain

Miistry of the Environment and Water Resources . (2015, March 11). Factsheet on more measures to improve Singapore’s air quality . Retrieved Sept 6, 2016, from https://www.mewr.gov.sg/docs/default-source/default-document-library/cos-2015-media-factsheet—spore-39-s-air-quality.pdf

Video Credits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxgv68BsqLI

Relocation as a solution? NO!

A news headline shouts out to me when the title is “polluting industries to be moved out of Hyderabad, says KTR”. At the back of my mind, I was wondering if the authorities are just trying to shift the industrial pollution from one area to the next, thereby causing the polluted areas to “increase”. This follows my previous post on time lag of industrial pollution where the effects will only be faced several weeks/months/years from date of pollution.  As such, by shifting the polluting industries, more areas will be exposed to the pollutants and hence being a cause of concern for the authorities again.

Figure 1: Concept of spreading from one industrial polluted site to another 

The above diagram aims to act as an illustration on the concept of spreading that i previously mentioned. The heavily polluted area (in red), when shifted to other sites, might just expand the “pollution ring” of the area. While the Municipal Administration Minister did mention that their intention is not to shift the industrial pollution problem in one area to another and the shift will be accompanied by separate incentive policy to reduce industrial pollution, there is still bound to be problems when the polluting industries are relocated.

For example, the industries might not have the relevant equipments, processes or technical expertise in shifting to a non-polluting industry. While incentive are given by the government to encourage the shift to a clean industry, the industries might be unable to do so without monetary or technical help from the relevant authorities.

Moreover, despite efforts such as building affluent treatment plants in the new area of relocation, the demand for treating the waste might exceed the supply of treatment plants, hence rendering industrial pollution as a continuous and persistent issue in the area. This situation is likely to occur as the sudden transition from a pollutant-emitting industry to a 100% pollutant-free industry is great, and many industries will not be able to cope with the sudden change, hence increasing their reliance on the treatment plants.

As such, rather than spending time and effort on relocating the pollutant-emitting industries, i would suggest a stronger and more determinant effort in providing resources (such as monetary and technical assistance) to these industries in reaching a zero-emission goal.

Reference

PTI. (2016, August 25). The NEWS Minute . Retrieved August 29, 2016, from Polluting industries to be moved out of Hyderabad, says KTR : http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/polluting-industries-be-moved-out-hyderabad-says-ktr-48794

Credits

Figure 1: http://images.itprism.com/marketing/viral_marketing.jpg