Matters of Scale - Chemical Warfare

Matters of Scale Image

Maximum safe level of perchlorate, the main ingredient of rocket and missile fuel, in drinking water
0.03 micrograms per kg of body weight
Perchlorate found in leafy vegetables grown in California with irrigation water contaminated by leaks or dumping from military contractors
4,490.00 micrograms per kg of produce
Total weight of chemical weapons in Iraq before the 2003 war, as estimated by the American Federation of Scientists
3,850 tons
Total weight of just six of the most dangerous pesticides at large in the global environment
7,000,000 tons
People killed by Iraqi chemical weapons in the six-year period preceding the 2003 U.S. War on Iraq
People killed by pesticides, as estimated by the World Health Organization, during the same six-year period
over 1,000,000
Number of deaths in the United States each year for which death certificates list the cause of death as air pollution
Number of U.S. deaths actually caused by air pollution, as estimated by the Harvard School of Public Health
Projected increase in the world's population between 1995 and 2020
25 percent
Projected increase in the world's chemical production between 1995 and 2020
80 percent
Sources: Safe level of perchlorate: Draft Risk Assessment, Environmental Protection Agency, January 18, 2003; perchlorate level in lettuce: Environmental Working Group, Washington, D.C., April 29, 2003; weight of chemical weapons in Iraq: Federation of American Scientists; weight of six pesticides (DDT, chlordane, HCB, toxaphene, aldrin, and dieldrinc): Paul Johnston, et al., Natural Resources Forum, May 1999; chemical weapons deaths in Iraq: the last known attacks occurred in 1988; pesticide deaths: World Health Organization estimate of more than 500 deaths and 8,000 nonfatal poisonings per day; air pollution deaths: John Spengler, director of Environmental Science and Engineering program, Harvard School of Public Health, cited in Devra Davis, When Smoke Ran Like Water (New York: Basic Books, 2002).