Dangerous Waters

About 885 million people are at risk for diseases like diarrhea and cholera from crops irrigated by untreated urban wastewater, according to a report in Environmental Research Letters.

Researchers found that 36 million hectares—an area about the size of Germany—are irrigated with water that poses risks, 50% more farmland than previously thought. About 80% of this farmland is in countries with limited wastewater treatment, such as China, India, Pakistan, Mexico and Iran.

Contaminated water poses risks to farmers, who can develop skin infections, and consumers, who may contract worms, diarrhea and cholera from raw vegetables, researchers say.

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

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