Solve pollution. Save lives. Protect the planet.

Pure Earth has been active in India since 2004. Since then, Pure Earth and its local partners have identified 716 contaminated sites, and completed rapid screening assessments at 500 of these. Pure Earth has also conducted a number of risk-reduction projects across India and has engaged with the government on a variety of pollution issues. In recent years, Pure Earth’s focus in India has centered on lead (Pb) contamination.

Pure Earth is currently developing non-assessment activities in India that directly result from our in-depth assessment of lead contamination through the TSIP. These activities are designed to advance a national effort to further formalize the lead-acid battery recycling industry and substantially reduce the volume of lead that enters the environment and the bodies of children in surrounding communities. These activities include a risk-reduction intervention in a community in Bihar State where informal battery manufacturing next to an elementary school has poisoned local children, a program to collectivize informal battery workers to improve their operations and reduce lead emissions, a lead source apportionment study to evaluate the relative contribution of informal battery recycling to elevated blood-lead levels, and a national program to improve the effectiveness of India’s Battery Management and Handling Rules.

One of the primary sources of lead poisoning for children in India is the informal recycling of used lead-acid batteries (ULAB), primarily car batteries. In fact, poor people in almost every urban center in the developing world can be found practicing this toxic livelihood, often in back yards and community spaces, unknowingly poisoning their children and families on a daily basis. Nationally, lead poisoning is widespread among India’s children. Existing studies estimate that Indian children under 12 have a mean blood lead level (BLL) of 10 µg/dl. It is estimated that diminished IQ in lead-poisoned children results in a loss of $236.1 billion (12.5% of India’s GDP) in economic productivity every year.

With funding from USAID, the European Commission, ERM and philanthropists, Pure Earth is expanding efforts to stop childhood lead poisoning.