What We Do
We prioritize actions to protect the developing brains and bodies of children and pregnant women. We work to stop the multigenerational cycle of lead poisoning that is endemic in low and middle-income countries.
Lead and mercury are two of the most prevalent pollutants in low and middle-income countries. There is widespread use of, and exposure to, dangerous forms of lead and mercury. Global Burden of Disease data indicate lead and mercury exposure pose a greater risk than all other Top Ten Chemicals of Concern identified by WHO.
More than 800 million children globally have a concentration of lead in their blood above 5 micrograms per deciliter – indicating lead poisoning and resulting in permanent brain damage and the loss of 3 to 5 IQ points. Childhood lead poisoning is estimated to cost lower- and middle-income countries almost USD $1 trillion due to the lost economic potential of these children over their lifetime.
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Mercury wreaks similar damage on mothers and infants. It crosses the placenta, poisoning the fetus. Mercury is highly mobile in the environment; it bioaccumulates and transforms in aquatic environments into highly toxic methyl-mercury. This is why pregnant women are advised to limit intake of certain types of fish.
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The Toxic Truth:
Children’s Exposure to Lead Pollution Undermines a Generation of Future Potential
UNICEF and Pure Earth Call for Urgent Action to Protect 800 Million Children Affected by Lead