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High Temperatures Top Weather-Related Killer in US

The administration of US President Joe Biden announced yesterday a major interagency initiative to respond to the impacts of extreme heat in the United States. This effort, which closely follows the hottest month ever recorded on Earth, will seek to…
Workers harvest cantaloupe on a farm during a drought in Firebaugh, California, US, on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.
News

Storm Highlights Need for Inclusive Disaster Planning in the US

Hurricane Ida made landfall in the southern US state of Louisiana last week, leaving thousands of people displaced and millions without power or access to other resources. Among those most at risk during the storm and in its aftermath have been people…
Occupants prepare to depart the Renaissance Place senior living apartments in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida on September 3, 2021, in New Orleans, Louisiana. 
News

One of Many Countries Waking Up to the Dangers of Chlorpyrifos

Last week, the Canadian government quietly released a three-year plan to phase out use of the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos. As Human Rights Watch has reported, the health risks associated with exposure to chlorpyrifos are well-documented. These…
Works plant strawberries farming quebec
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Environmental Groups Hope Case Will Force Government Action on Emissions

When you approach the town of Secunda in the coal-rich province of Mpumalanga in eastern South Africa, the toxic smell of air emanating from the cluster of coal-fired power stations hits you long-before before you see the town. I spent last week in…
Fence line communities near Duvha Power Station, Mpumalanga, South Africa. 
News

Evidence of Impact Mounts, Action is Needed

Mother’s Day in the United States is typically associated with spring, and new life. But because of the climate crisis, Mother’s Day also heralds hotter summers with more and longer heat waves, worsening North Atlantic hurricane season, and…
Farmworkers, considered essential workers under the current Covid-19 pandemic guidelines, work a strawberry field in Santa Paula, California, April 15, 2020. 
News

Increasing Temperatures Threaten Worker Safety

Many United States farmworkers and other essential outdoor workers have gone to work throughout the dangerous Covid-19 pandemic, putting food on people’s tables and collecting their trash. But outdoor workers put themselves at risk every year by…
Farmworkers, considered essential workers under the Covid-19 pandemic, harvest beans in Homestead, Florida, May 12, 2020. 
News

Beirut Blast Damaged Country’s Waste Management Infrastructure

Beirut’s port explosion, which killed 212 people and obliterated large parts of the city on August 4, has put additional strains on Lebanon’s already compromised ability to manage its waste. The rubble and demolition debris alone vastly increased…
A beach where a heavy winds and strong waves washed ashore piles of garbage in Keserwan, north of Beirut, Lebanon, on 23 January 2018.
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Bayer Agrees to US$10.9 Billion Settlement in Case Alleging Pesticide Caused Cancer

German chemical company Bayer will pay up to $10.9 billion to settle tens of thousands of cancer claims linked to one of its herbicides, Roundup, in one of the largest-ever settlements in United States civil ligation. The weed-killer Roundup is…
Christine Sheppard, in her backyard in Oceanside, California in March 2018, said she sprayed Roundup for years to control weeds on her coffee farm in Hawaii. In 2003, she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which is now in remission but the cancer treatment causes her severe pain in her hands and legs.
News

Communities of Color Face Dangerous Lack of Access to Clean Water

Access to safe and affordable water is essential to human health and for following basic recommendations issued by US public health experts on proper hand hygiene to help prevent Covid-19 infection. Despite this, communities of color across the…
The top of a water tower is seen at the Flint Water Plant in Flint, Michigan January 13, 2016.
News

Government’s Limited Covid-19 Protection Measures Risks Lives

This Sunday, in Minsk, Belarus authorities will hold a large parade – a jarring sight, considering much of the world is in various stages of Covid-19 lockdowns. The parade will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the defeat of Nazis in World War II,…
Servicemen of Belarus Ministry of Defence wearing protective gear spray disinfectant on each other after disinfecting a hospital in Minsk
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On World Water Day, Marginalized Populations Still Lack Access to Basic Hygiene Measures

  Today is World Water Day, but as the world braces for the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is little to celebrate. The need for good hygiene like handwashing is key to protecting public health and responding to the virus.…
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News

State Pediatricians Urge Cuomo to Protect Children’s Health

Pressure is growing for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that would ban the use of chlorpyrifos, a toxic pesticide. The scientific evidence on the harms of chlorpyrifos is overwhelming and irrefutable. On Friday, the European Union…
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News

Women and Girls Still Suffer From Lack of Support in Managing Menstruation

The biological fact of menstruation shouldn’t be a barrier to gender equality or stymie women’s and girls’ realization of their human rights. Yet many studies have documented how girls and women are able – or not – to manage their…
A woman fetches water from a partially submerged hand pump in a flood-affected village in Sonitpur district in the northeastern state of Assam, India, September 11, 2017.
News

Ruling Will Empower Citizens

“A clean environment is a fundamental right for the existence of humanity,” proclaimed the Inter-American Court of Human Rights last week, the first time the court explicitly outlined some of the key components of the right to a healthy…
San Andres island.
News

UN Pollution Meeting Should Embrace Child Rights in its Resolutions

Bhopal, Chernobyl, and Minamata – these environmental disasters shocked the world. Yet, pollution results not only from catastrophic accidents but also from years of silent exposure. Children’s developing bodies are particularly…
“My name is Amina and I am twenty years old. I grew up here in the town of Bagega. I had six children. Three have died. Each time one died, I was so distraught and I was very traumatized.” Amina, Bagega, Zamfara state, Nigeria, 2011.
News

New Lancet Report Says Poorer Countries Are Most Affected

  Pollution is a major cause of premature death, disability, and disease around the world, a new report in the medical journal Lancet said today, stressing that most health impacts are on people living in low- and middle-income countries.…
Slum houses in Hazaribagh beside an open gutter channeling untreated effluent from tanneries nearby. Local residents of Hazaribagh reported to Human Rights Watch an array of health problems—many of them undiagnosed due to the cost of medical attention—suc
News

Pact Would Enshrine Key Rights Protections

Today, in front of the United Nations General Assembly, French President Emmanuel Macron is set to launch the Global Pact for the Environment. Its primary aim is to bolster international efforts to protect the environment from climate…
French President Emmanuel Macron waits for a guest outside the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, September 15, 2017.
News

Villagers Now Able to Seek Information From the Government

As Malawi’s government promotes investment in mining and resource extraction, ordinary Malawians have been struggling to access information on the impact of mining operations on their lives: Is mining polluting their drinking water? Their fields? Last…
Young girl washing dishes at a borehole near Eland coal mine in Mwabulambo, Karonga district.
News

Future Whistleblowers Are Watching

Update: On Friday, Human Rights Watch sent a letter to President Obama urging that he commute the sentence of Chelsea Manning. On January 17, President Obama ordered Manning be freed, having served nearly 7 years of her sentence, on May 17, 2017, rather…
A supporter of Edward Snowden holds a combination photo featuring U.S. President Barack Obama and Edward Snowden, during a news conference in Hong Kong on June 14, 2013.
News

Children Face Twin Threat from Pollution and Climate Change

Around the world, industries are polluting the food children eat, the air they breathe, and the ground they play on. And increasingly, the effects of climate change are hindering children’s access to water and making them sick. …
Mercury-contaminated river