Women/Mothers in some of the world’s worst polluted places

Did you know that women and children in low- and middle-income countries are the most vulnerable victims of toxic pollution? 

While children under six make up only 20% of the world’s population, over 40% of the global burden of disease falls on them. More than three million children under age five die annually from environmental factors. Toxic pollution has a bigger impact on their smaller bodies, interfering with their development, inflicting damage that can last a lifetime. Children can be poisoned just by running around barefoot in their homes or villages. Learn more facts about pollution.

Read the story of one mother and the five children she lost because of toxic pollution


I see them all the time when I visit polluted hotspots where, really, no one should be living. I see them going about their daily, often back-breaking, work many times with children in tow.  These women are often too busy taking care of daily necessities to do anything else, let alone ponder the extremely contaminated environment in which they happen to live.

But these women are often the key to change once they realize their children are being poisoned.  They are the ones we usually work with to raise awareness about pollution in their communities and what they can do to keep safe, until the cleanup is completed. The story of Seynabou, a mother in Senegal, is a great example.

So to all these women and mothers on the frontline of pollution… thanks.

Taking a break from scavenging at a dumpsite in India

Mother and child living near the contaminated Kharkai river in eastern India

A woman extracting gold from ore in Senegal, with children and food nearby. There are over 4.5 million women and some 600,000 children who are involved in artisanal gold mining around the world, and who are exposed to direct contact with toxic mercury used in the process.

Daily housework in the middle of Ghana’s notorious Agbogbloshie market.

Mother sleeping with her child in the middle of Ghana’s Agbogbloshie market.

A Pure Earth team can be seen in the background doing some site testing

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