Soccer Field Transformed From Toxic Lead Dump To Safe Play Space

This soccer field used to be highly contaminated with toxic lead. Children were being poisoned everyday.

In Cinangka, Indonesia, a playground near the primary school was so toxic that parts of the field had lead levels that measured 123 times above the World Health Organization (WHO) standard.

While an XRF (X-ray fluorescence) analyzer is usually used to detect contaminants in the ground, here it is being used to test a soccer ball children were playing with on a lead-contaminated soccer field.

Hundreds of children were exposed to lead poisoning every day, running around on the field, sometimes barefoot. (Read about the “Who Can Put Shoes on the Fastest?” game)

Something needed to be done fast.

So Pure Earth experts decided to “bury” the problem using a process called encapsulation.

The excavation process begins on the contaminated soccer field.

We dug a big hole in the soccer field and encased over 2,500 cubic meters of highly contaminated soil in a double-lined geo-membrane, covering it with clay and a thick layer of limestone rock. Even though the contaminated soil remains at the site, it no longer poses a health risk. All this was done for under $10 a resident.

By demonstrating to the local government that cleanup can be quick and low-cost, we have opened the way for more work at other contaminated sites across the country.

Now the children of Cinangka have their wish – a soccer field that will not poison.

Read the full Cinangka Project Completion Report (pdf)

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