More Than a Year of Living Dangerously
Indonesian citizens, particularly children, are suffering from a rise in industrial pollution that has accompanied the nation’s rapid economic growth, according to a World Bank report released today. More than 6 million vehicles were added to Indonesia’s streets between 1995 and 2000, and many of them use leaded gasoline. Lead in the environment puts an estimated one-third of Indonesia’s kids at risk for brain and intestinal damage. Annual forest fires, set deliberately to clear land for agriculture, cause dangerous haze that spreads beyond Indonesia to neighboring nations. Air pollution in general takes an annual toll of at least $400 million on the nation’s economy, largely in health costs, with respiratory-tract inflammation the sixth leading cause of death in the country. Solid waste disposal has also become a major problem in Indonesia, and substandard sewage systems are leading to pervasive pollution of surface and groundwater.