BEPI welcomes a study recently published by the Swiss Green Cross and international NGO Pure Earth, The 2015 World’s Worst Pollution Problems, which updates the list of the top six toxic threats nowadays. According to this report, the six pollutants, lead, radionuclides, mercury, chromium, pesticides and cadmium, continue to threaten the health of 95 million people worldwide.
The study considers the direct impact on the environment through contamination of land, water and air, and the impact on human health by exposure to the pollutants via inhalation or ingestion. While lead occurs naturally in the environment, it contaminates the environment by release during mining, smelting and lead-recycling processes. Exposure happens through inhalation of contaminated dust, ingestion of contaminated soil, water or food and can cause an array of health problems.
Chromium VI, one of the eleventh chemical groups Greenpeace has included in its Detox campaign, is a result of industrial processes such as leather tanning, and may cause serious health problems. Pesticides, on the other hand, are generally used to protect crops by eliminating pests or control disease vectors in agriculture. They are released into the environment as it washes away by rainfall into surface and groundwater, increasing potential exposure to local and more distant communities.
Some of these pollutants can be present in processes at different manufacturing stages of the supply chain. Managing these risks is a challenge for businesses and reinforcing the fundaments should be the first step to tackle. The Business Environmental Performance Initiative (BEPI) is designed to support companies manage the environmental performance of their supply chain. With a strong focus on environmental management systems approach and capacity building activities, it aims to provide companies with a better understanding of where risks lie in their supply chain, and offers a framework whereby a team of experts support producers in enhancing their environmental performance in areas most relevant to the manufacturing processes.