Health and Pollution : Glossary

There are 75 documents in this section.

  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

    19 February 2004

    PCB is a compound derived from biphenyl and containing chlorine that is used in electrical insulators, flame retardants, and plasticizers. Being stable they tend to accumulate in the environment, mainly by passage through the food chains. As a result, they are found in locations far removed from their industrial sources. Seals, fish and humans in the Arctic, for example, have traces of PCBs in their bodies. Tests have indicated that PCBs are carcinogenic and may impair the immune system. They area hazardous pollutants that are difficult to dispose of safely and have been banned in several countries.

  • Child mortality rate

    24 September 2003

    The number of deaths among children under 5 years old per 1,000 children in the same age group.

  • Persistant Organic Pollutants (POPs)

    5 March 2003

    Persistant Organic Pollutants (POPs) are chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of living organisms and are toxic to humans and wildlife. POPs circulate globally and can cause damage wherever they travel. Such pollutants include toxix chemicals like DDT, Chlordane, and Endrin, Dioxins and Furans, among many others. The Stockholm Convention is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants (POPs). In implementing the Convention, governments will take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment. For more information see: Ridding the World of POPs: A guide to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

  • Environment

    23 May 2002

    A combination of the various physical and biological elements that affect the life of an organism. Although it is common to refer to 'the' environment, there are in fact many environments eg, aquatic or terrestrial, microscopic to global, all capable of change in time and place, but all intimately linked and in combination constituting the whole earth/atmosphere system.

  • Development

    23 May 2002

    A process of economic and social transformation that defies simple definition. Though often viewed as a strictly economic process involving growth and diversification of a country's economy, development is a qualitative concept that entails complex social, cultural, and environmental changes. There are many models of what 'development' should look like and many different standards of what constitutes 'success'.

  • Environmentally-sound

    23 May 2002

    The maintenance of a healthy environment and the protection of life-sustaining ecological processes. It is based on thorough knowledge and requires or will result in products, manufacturing processes, developments, etc. which are in harmony with essential ecological processes and human health.

  • World Commission on Environment and Development

    23 May 2002

    Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1983 to examine international and global environmental problems and to propose strategies for sustainable development. Chaired by Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, the independent commission held meetings and public hearing around the world and submitted a report on its inquiry to the General Assembly in 1987.

  • Sustainable development

    23 May 2002

    Sustainable development has as many definitions as subscribers. In essence, it refers to economic development that meets the needs of all without leaving future generations with fewer natural resources than those we enjoy today. It is widely accepted that achieving sustainable development requires balance between three dimensions of complementary change:

    • Economic (towards sustainable patterns of production and consumption)

    • Ecological (towards maintenance and restoration of healthy ecosystems)

    • Social (towards poverty eradication and sustainable livelihoods)

  • World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)

    23 May 2002

    The World Summit on Sustainable Development takes place from 26 August - 4 September 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Governments, UN agencies, and civil society organisations will come together to assess progress since the UN Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio in 1992 (hence the title 'Rio + 10' for the Johannesburg meeting).

    Sustainable development is defined in the report from the Rio meeting as being 'economic progress which meets all of our needs without leaving future generations with fewer resources than those we enjoy'.

  • Ozone

    26 September 2001

    An unstable and chemically-reactive gas containing three oxygen atoms, formed at high altitudes by the action of sunlight on molecular oxygen. Present at low concentration in the stratosphere, ozone absorbs ultraviolet radiation from the sun and reduces the amount of this damaging radiation that reaches the Earth's surface. Ozone is also formed at ground level - by the interaction of sunlight with exhaust gases from automobiles and industry, and by the action of sunlight on nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons-where it is a primary component of smog that aggravates breathing problems and damages plants.