Single-minded pursuit of rapid economic growth has caused an air and water pollution
crisis in many of Asia's cities, according to a U.N. report.
"Water-related diseases are the main cause of death in developing countries,"
said the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
"About 35,000 children die each day, mostly from bacteria, viruses and other
pathogens in the water," it said.
In Bangkok, some stretches of the Chao Phraya River completely lack dissolved oxygen
and can no longer support life, the report said.
It said the rivers that flow into Asian cities already hold pathogens and pesticide
residues, then become even more polluted with sewage and industrial and household
wastes dumped directly into the water.
Air pollution has caused high rates of lung cancer, tuberculosis and bronchitis in
"Sulphur dioxide and suspended dust levels can be tens to hundreds of times
worse than in U.S. or Canadian cities," the statement said.
It said that in Bangkok, dust levels in 1989 were estimated to have cost 26 million
lost work-days and 1,400 deaths.
Average levels of lead in the blood are four times the U.S. standard, and there is
evidence of permanent brain damage in children due to lead poisoning.
The statement said indoor pollution is a major health hazard, particularly for women
and children in poor households regularly exposed to high concentrations of pollutants
from cooking and from heating sources in poorly ventilated dwellings. -AP