HSBC Mexico’s “Adopt A Potter” Program Takes On Urgency After Earthquake

HSBC launched a unique “Adopt A Potter” program in support of Pure Earth’s work to reduce lead poisoning from the widespread use of traditional leaded pottery in Mexico.

Under the program, corporate volunteers visit artisans who have made their practices lead-free in order to see how their pottery workshops are run. The volunteers subsequently work in teams to develop a strategy for the artisans, providing assistance in sales, marketing, finance, administration and other business skills required to grow the lead-free business.

However, prior to this meeting, an earthquake struck which resulted in the loss of community member lives as well as damage to pottery workshops.

In response, HSBC volunteers brought relief supplies to the community. In addition, the volunteers decided to continue with the “Adopt A Potter” program.

In October, one month after the earthquake, volunteers packed a bus and headed to Tlayacapan, Mexico. The volunteers visited several workshops, where they watched the potters work. The volunteers also aided with some repairs to the buildings damaged by the earthquake.

The collaboration is expected to continue as the artisans and volunteers work together to promote lead-free pottery.

From the Pollution Blog: HSCBC Mexico’s “Adopt A Potter” Program Takes On Urgency After Earthquake

Barro Aprobado In New York – Helping Mexican Lead-Free Artisans Reach A Wider Market

A team comprising of a group of artisans from Michoacán in Mexico travelled to New York to showcase their lead-free pottery at one of NY Now. This is one of the largest trade shows in the country where buyers come to scout for products that fill store shelves nationwide. Pure Earth’s Barro Aprobado program is to promote lead-free pottery and to create a demand for it. This is partly achieved by expanding the market for it through NY Now.

Some of the potters from Michoacán, Mexico

Retdes, a small non-profit working with the potters, reached out to Pure Earth last year when they needed assistance in assessing the effect of lead use in the Michoacán artisan community. In response, Daniel Estrada , Pure Earth’s program director in Mexico, travelled to Michoacán to assess the extent of lead contamination in the community.

Homes, play yards, pottery workshops, food storage areas, and other areas were tested for lead. Children tested for lead in Michoacán had blood lead levels as high as 65 µg/dL (the U.S. level of concern is 5 µg/dL, although there is no safe level of lead).

The Pure Earth team then returned to remediate three workshops in Michoacán and continues to lend a hand. To date, two of Retdes’ artisans have joined Pure Earth’s Barro Aprobado promgram, and we expect more to follow

From the Pollution Blog: Barro Aprobado In New York – Helping Mexican Lead-Free Artisans Reach A Wider Market

Restoration of Rainforest Stripped By Gold Mining in the Amazon

Replanting work in progress

This project is focused on the restoration of rainforest in the Madre Dios region of Peru, a hotbed of ecological and economic riches.

First Application of Mining Restoration Plan: Pure Earth partnered with CINCIA (Amazon Center of Scientific Innovation) to ecologically restore the Paolita II Mining Concession of Madre de Dios during December 2017.  Plant species were first selected based on their ecological and economic potential. The plants we re chosen using prior knowledge from previous pilot studies conducted by CINCIA. Nine different species were eventually chosen for restoration. Many species were chosen for their various uses. For instance, the Huito tree was chosen as it can be utilized as timber but can also provide local indigenous populations with temporary tattoo dye, ointment and medicine. The project team, which included seven university students from CINCIA dispersed more than 4000 kl (kiloliter) of compost and planted 4,166 seedlings. In March 2018, the team will add 744 additional seedlings to reinforce initial growth.

The Pure Earth Paolita II plantation will function as a model and training center to help future stakeholders responsibly close mines without leaving behind a legacy of social and environmental degradation.

From the Pollution Blog: Restoring Rainforest Stripped By Gold Mining in the Amazon

Focus on Research in Developing World: “We are missing the full picture”

 

(NOTE:  Deadline Jan. 12, 2015 to apply for research grants.  See below)

haz matOver the past few years, Blacksmith Institute for a Pure Earth has embarked on a broad effort to expand research and understanding about the issue of toxic pollution, especially its damaging impact in low and middle-income countries, where pollution is the largest killer. Without data and information, one of the world’s biggest global problems will remain invisible.

 

“Although toxic pollution is one of the biggest global threats, cleanup has been slow partly because there has been a lack of data to chronicle the scope and reach of problem. And this void of knowledge is greatest in poor and middle-income countries. Without proper data and studies, the toxic pollution problems plaguing these nations cannot be solved.”

— Richard Fuller, president of Blacksmith Institute for a Pure Earth.

“Some scientists are at a disadvantage – they have no funds to support the write up of their research… As a result, not enough is written and published about the effects of toxic pollution in low and middle income countries.”

“… we are missing the full picture, missing local information. Research is going on but it is not known among funders of the world.”

— Sandy Page-Cook, Managing Editor of the Journal of Health and Pollution, in Teaching Scientists in Developing Countries to WriteHuffington Post, Dec. 2014

Crucial Pipeline

Blacksmith/Pure Earth is creating a crucial pipeline for this information to reach organizations like the World Bank, European aid agencies and others who have the vast funding needed to deal with threats to human health from pollution.

Our efforts have allowed us to paint the clearest picture to date of pollution’s devastating hold on the poisoned poorMore than one in seven deaths in the world are pollution-related. Here’s a snapshot of pollution’s global toll.

Here are three ways we are continuing to close this knowledge gap:

1) Small Research Grants 2015: Call for Proposals, Deadline Jan. 12, 2015

Calling all researchers and scientists, there is still time to apply for these grants – deadline January 12, 205.  The grants are intended mainly to support researchers in their effort to write up their findings for publication in an international, peer-reviewed journal. Research work should focus on the scope, effects and remediation of toxic pollution in poor countries.  Click on the link above to get details.

2) Teaching Scientists in Developing Countries to Write for International Journals

To date, over 100 researchers, including Kenyan scientist Faridah Hussein Were, have taken the free online course developed by Blacksmith/Pure Earth in collaboration with AuthorAID, to help researchers and scientists from low and middle-income countries improve their technical writing and editing skills with an eye to getting their views and findings in major international journals. The course will increase from five to ten weeks next year.

3) Journal of Health and Pollution Gives Voice to Researchers from Underrepresented Countries

Published by Blacksmith/Pure Earth, the Journal of Health and Pollution (JH&P) is the only journal focused exclusively on low and middle-income countries. The online journal of peer reviewed research and news is an important pipeline of crucial data and analysis of this global problem in countries that are often underrepresented in major studies. In 2015, the journal will enter its fifth year.

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Three Papers Published in Prestigious Journal

Richard Fuller, Blacksmith Institute for a Pure Earth President with a  Mexican potter

Richard Fuller, Blacksmith Institute for a Pure Earth President with a Mexican potter

Our effort to expand research and understanding about toxic pollution continues this month with three papers published in the prestigious Annals of Global Health, formerly known as The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine (Volume 80, Issue 4, p245-344, e1-e11 July–August 2014). 

Environmental pollution is the main cause of disease and death in the developing world. In 2012, exposures to polluted soil, water, and air resulted in an estimated 8.4 million deaths worldwide. By comparison, HIV/AIDS is responsible for 1.5 million deaths annually and malaria and tuberculosis less than 1 million each. More than 1 in 7 deaths globally are the result of environmental pollution.

This key paper is available in English and Spanish. It is an extensive historical review and analysis of 83 published articles from 1978 to 2010 containing available data on blood lead levels from more than 50,000 participants.  Using this data, researchers calculated a  geometric mean to evaluate the effect of lead on the pediatric burden of disease.

The results indicate that more than 15% of the population will experience a decrement of more than 5 IQ points from lead exposure. The analysis also leads researchers to believe that lead is responsible for 820,000 disability-adjusted life-years for lead-induced mild mental retardation for children aged 0 to 4 years.

In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), chemical exposures in the environment due to hazardous waste sites and toxic pollutants are typically poorly documented and their health impacts insufficiently quantified. Furthermore, there often is only limited understanding of the health and environmental consequences of point source pollution problems, and little consensus on how to assess and rank them. The contributions of toxic environmental exposures to the global burden of disease are not well characterized.

This study describes the simple but effective approach taken by Blacksmith Institute’s Toxic Sites Identification Program to quantify and rank toxic exposures in LMICs. This system is already in use at more than 3000 sites in 48 countries such as India, Indonesia, China, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine.

Related:

CDC’s MMWR Features Our Findings on Lead in Kabwe’s Children

Fact Sheet: What is the #1 Childhood Environmental Health Threat Globally?

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“Lead Poisoning from improper automotive battery recycling activities is the number one childhood environmental health threat globally”.

—  Dr. Jack Caravanos, CUNY professor and research lead at Blacksmith Institute for a Pure Earth

While lead pollution can result from a number of activities, the improper recycling of used lead-acid batteries (ULABs) is the leading source. Lead exposure is estimated to account for 143, 000 deaths per year, or 0.6% of the global burden of disease, with the highest burden in developing regions. Children are most at risk. Read the story of Seynabou Mbengue and the five children she lost

Here are some FACTS ABOUT LEAD:

  • There is no known safe level of lead exposure.
  • The CDC has adopted 5 µg/dL (micrograms /deciliter) as the point at which to trigger public health actions.
  • In the U.S., about 500,000 U.S. children are estimated to have a blood lead level of at least 5 µg/dL.  Average blood lead level in the U.S. is 1.8 µg/dL. In some of the world’s worst polluted places, we have found levels as high as 234 µg/dL in children.
  • Lead exposure is entirely preventable.

Statistics:

  • Childhood lead exposure is estimated to contribute to 600,000 new cases globally of children with intellectual disabilities every year.
  • Lead exposure is estimated to account for 143, 000 deaths per year, or 0.6% of the global burden of disease, with the highest burden in developing regions.
  • In a review of 242 studies of known chemically contaminated sites, lead was the primary contaminant in 57 (25%) studies, representing 8,345 exposed children.

Health Effects:

  • Lead is a potent neurotoxin, causing lower intellectual capacity, neurological damage, and cardiovascular disease, amongst other problems.
  • Children are the most vulnerable. Lead can affect nearly every system in a young developing body, in particular the brain and nervous system, with devastating and sometimes permanent health consequences.
  • The presence of lead in children lowers I.Q. by an estimated 4-7 points for each increase of 10 μg/dL.
  • In adults, lead poisoning can lead to increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage. In pregnant women, lead poisoning can cause miscarriage and stillbirths.
  • Lead exposure often occurs with no obvious symptoms as lead accumulates in the body over time.  Lead poisoning therefore frequently goes unrecognized.

Sources:

  • The improper recycling of used lead-acid batteries is arguably the #1 childhood environmental health threat globally.
  • Of the six million tons of lead that are used annually, approximately three quarters go into the production of lead-acid batteries. Of these batteries, 97% are eventually recycled to retrieve the lead.
  • The improper recycling of ULABs happens in every city in the developing world.  These are small mom-and-pop operations. Batteries are often broken up by hand, often in backyards, and smelted in kitchens.
  • Lead pollution can also be a result of mining, smelting, manufacturing and other activities, including the continued use of leaded paint and leaded gasoline in some countries.

Examples of the Lead Problem:

  • In Nigeria, the high price of gold prompted a mini gold rush in 2010, and villagers took to mining the lead-rich ore. This resulted in the world’s worst outbreak of lead poisoning.  Over  400 children were killed.  Lead levels as high as 150µg/dL were recorded. (see Photos)

Sources/Learn More:

The Mystery of Mining Waste Dumped In An Armenian School

Beyond Akhtala, the site of our very first cleanup project in Armenia (read more in Armenia’s Toxic 10th-Century Monastery), our team came across various other polluted sites including a school, which apparently had been used as an informal dumping ground by a mining company.

We found mounds of highly toxic waste all around the school grounds (see photos below). We were shocked and very concerned to see children playing around the exposed piles of poison, unaware of the dangers. Obviously, this called for immediate action, and we began planning on a mode of action.

Shortly after, however, to our surprise, we found that the toxic materials had suddenly vanished. Someone had come and removed the toxic waste away from the school in the middle of the night! We can only guess where it has been re-dumped.

We found the contamination at the school and identified 29 pollution sites as threats to the health of Armenians following two years of field research conducted through a partnership between Blacksmith Institute for a Pure Earth and the American University of Armenia. This was the first independent, comprehensive assessment of toxic pollution in Armenia.

By spotlighting pollution in Armenia, we are making the threat more visible to prompt cleanup and raise awareness. Dumping toxic waste at a school should not be tolerated anywhere in the world.

While the immediate danger to children at the school we assessed is reduced, there is no guarantee that more toxic materials will not be dumped there in the future. As to what happened to the dangerous waste that was mysteriously moved in the middle of the night? Did it end up in another school or neighborhood? For now, there is no way to know.

Toxic dump at school

Red arrows mark where the highly toxic piles of mining waste had been dumped on the school grounds.

Toxic dump at school

Red arrows show the close proximity of the school buildings to the mounds of toxic waste dumped on the school grounds.

CDC’s MMWR Features Our Findings on Lead in Kabwe’s Children

The latest issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the main resource for key public health information and recommendations from the CDC, features field notes from our July trip to Kabwe, where we found devastating levels of lead poisoning in children.

kid in tub IMG_5293 copy

With a population of approximately 203,000, Kabwe is located in Zambia’s Copperbelt.

For nearly 100 years, lead mining and smelting operations contaminated the soil in the community.

Our Blacksmith/Pure Earth team, which included Dr. Jack Caravanos from the City University of New York School of Public Health, and Green Cross Switzerland, conducted extensive surface soil testing across 12 neighborhoods, and blood lead testing of 196 children aged two to eight years in six communities adjacent to the now-closed Kabwe mines and smelters.

Testing the playground for toxins.

Testing the playground for toxins.

We found that 26.5% of the children recorded blood lead levels higher than 65.0 µg/dL. The reference level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated is 5 µg/dL. The CDC recommends that lead chelation therapy be considered when a child has a blood lead level ≥45 µg /dL.

Read the full article in MMWR.

Related:

(PHOTOS) Transforming Agbogbloshie: From Toxic E-Waste Dump Into Model Recycling Center

DSC03046On October 9, Agbogbloshie, Ghana – one of the world’s largest e-waste dumpsites – got something new.

The sense of excitement grew when residents saw a group of about a dozen men carrying a towering sign through town before planting it in the ground and raising it up in a Herculean effort, with six men on each side pushing and pulling.

The 20-foot tall sign announced the launch of a pilot project – the opening of a new e-waste recycling facility that could transform the way recyclers work in one of the worst polluted places on earth.

“Everyone is talking about how this is just the beginning,” said Kira Traore, the program director for Africa at Blacksmith Institute for a Pure Earth.

“I think we are seeing a real commitment to changing the e-waste recycling industry.”

The new e-waste facility is equipped with four automated machines that can strip or pull apart plastic coated cables and wires of various sizes scavenged from the e-waste dump to extract copper and other valuable materials within without burning.

Stripping e-waste can save lives by reducing the vast amount of toxic fumes that are released by burning, poisoning thousands (an estimated 250,000 people are at risk) and contaminating the community’s land, water and food.

With the opening of this new facility, recyclers all over Agbogbloshie now have a safer option.

“Burning e-waste was and still is, to many, the established way of working here. That is why we are grateful to see so much support from the recyclers and residents of Agbogbloshie for this new recycling facility,” said Yaw Amoyaw-Osei, Founder/Executive Director of GreenAd, one of Blacksmith/Pure Earth’s partners on the project.

“There was a lot of distrust initially. We had to convince the recyclers that we did not want to take away their livelihoods. We just want to find a non-toxic way for them to do their jobs. This is the first step towards stopping the mass poisoning of Agbogbloshie residents.”

Dromo-naa Folkloric dance ensemble at the ceremony

Drummers celebrate the opening of the new e-waste recycling facility.

It is difficult to miss the new facility.  Consisting of three low-cost shipping containers that are painted a bright and cheery blue, the recycling center stands out against the scorched and burnt landscape.

Bright balloons formed an archway welcoming all into the new center during the grand opening.

There was drumming and dancing, and school children, who put on a play about the dangers of e-waste.

DSC03137

The team – Blacksmith Institute/Pure Earth and local partners Green Advocacy Ghana (GreenAd) and the Greater Accra Scrap Dealers Association (GASDA) – was there along with local VIPS and stakeholders including the Deputy Minister of the Environment, the Director of the EPA, and representatives from the World Bank, UNDP, GIZ, GRATIS Institute, ProLink, the  National Youth Authority, the Ministry of Energy, the national Ghana electric company, the Customs Department, and EcoBank.

The recycling facility went up in much the same way as the sign that announced its opening – it was a collaborative effort.

“It was amazing to see so many of our supporters and stakeholders coming together for the opening,” said Yaw.

“We are receiving offers to help us bring in more machines, install sanitation equipment like a washing station and bathroom facility for the workers, provide business training, additional funding, and other means of support that will help ensure the success of this recycling facility.”

DSC03228 (smaller)

The crowd streams in to check out the new e-waste recycling facility after the grand opening.

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Not far away, evidence of toxic burning.

Blacksmith/Pure Earth and partners have been piloting various technologies to aid recyclers in replacing the burning process since 2008. Hand wire-stripping tools introduced in 2010 were met with a small-degree of success. With the new automated machines, the team has high hopes of starting a mini “revolution” in the way recyclers work.

DSC02987

Workers at the new e-waste recycling facility demonstrate how the machines work to strip wires without burning.

“This time, the recyclers are asking more questions about the machines and are offering more feedback and insights about the way they work,” said Kira.

“They are open about their needs because they know that we rely on their expertise. And we are very open about this being a pilot project, that we are trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t.”

This pilot is a project of the Global Alliance of Health and Pollution

See more PHOTOS of the opening and Agbogbloshie

Support for the project comes from the European Commission and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) through the Global Alliance for Health and Pollution (GAHP),with additional funding for scaling up the project from Addax and Oryx Foundation. The National Youth Authority donated use of the land for the recycling center, with additional support from theMinistry of Environment and Ghana’s EPA, Ghana Health Services, and the Comic Relief Fund.

Press release: Change and hope comes to Agbogbloshie, Oct 22, 2014

Learn more:

Agbogbloshie has been called one of the world’s worst polluted places. The burning of e-waste releases copious amounts of toxic fumes, which then spreads throughout the community.  An estimated 40,000 to as many as 250,000 people are at risk.

“Everywhere you look you see pieces of circuit boards, televisions, refrigerators, irons, etc. The toxic chemicals released are spread throughout the area when it rains and of course spread to the homes each evening. What especially troubled me was the path of the toxic smoke that floats right into the food market. So whatever doesn’t get into your lungs can now settle onto the food supply of Accra.”

— Dr. Jack Caravanos. Read more of his first-hand account in Report from Ghana’s Agbogbloshie E-Wasteland.

On previous visits, the Blacksmith/Pure Earth team has documented the vast amount of contamination. Samples taken around the perimeter of Agbogbloshie, found a presence of lead levels as high as 18,125 ppm in soil. The US EPA standard for lead in soil is 400 ppm. Another set of samples taken from five workers on the site found aluminum, copper, iron, and lead levels above ACGIH TLV guidelines. For instance, it was found that one volunteer had aluminum exposure levels of 17 mg/m3 compared with the ACGIH TLV guideline of 1.0 mg/m(read more).

To Environmental Journalists: Address Underreported Issue of Toxic Pollution

 

When an airliner disappears into the Indian ocean and hundreds of people are assumed dead, it’s huge news and millions are spent to find it and understand what went wrong. But in Zamfara, Nigeria, in 2010, over 200 children died from lead exposure from local mining and hundreds more fell ill. It wasn’t big news. There was no worldwide interest or outrage.

— Dr. Jack Caravanos, Associate Professor of Environmental Health, City University of New York, School of Public Health, NY; Advisor to Blacksmith Institute for a Pure Earth.

Photo: Courtesy Waste Management. Moderator: Abrahm Lustgarten, Energy Reporter, ProPublica Speakers: Jack Caravanos, Associate Professor, School of Public Health, Hunter College, City University of New York and Senior Science Advisor, Blacksmith Institute Tom Carpenter, Director of Sustainability Services, Waste Management, Inc. Kate Sinding, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council

Photo: Courtesy Waste Management.

Blacksmith Institute for a Pure Earth advisor Dr. Jack Caravanos recently addressed the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) at their annual conference in New Orleans about the far reaching, yet underreported global health impacts of toxic pollution.

The panel, Waste in the 21st Century, was moderated by ProPublica Energy reporter Abraham Lustgarten, and included Dr. Caravanos as well as Tom Carpenter (Waste Management, Inc.) and  Kate Sinding (Natural Resources Defense Council). 

If you missed it, listen to the audio of the discussion, or read Dr. Caravanos’ presentation notes below:


Today,  I will be talking about the global burden of disease from toxic waste sites. The extent of the problem, how it’s measured and why is it’s important.

Let me start by explaining a reporting problem we have with environmental health disasters:

When an airliner disappears into the Indian ocean and hundreds of people are assumed dead, it is huge news and millions are spent to find it and understand what went wrong. But in Zamfara, Nigeria in 2010, over 200 children died from lead exposure from local mining and hundreds more ill.  It was not big news. There was no worldwide interest or outrage.

When a strange odor wafts across the river in NYC and hundreds call to complain, it becomes major news and there are calls for action (even though no one was hospitalized.) But when dozens of villagers who use mercury to extract gold from ore in Bolivia are poisoned, few people write about it.

I can go on and on, but the delayed health response from exposure to toxic agents in the community or workplace, work against us when it comes to reporting the problem.

Rarely does environmental contamination kill dozens of people in one place at one time. It is a slow and steady effect.

So my message today is simple and I’ll state it up front : Toxic chemicals from industry and mining affect the health of hundreds of millions of people in low- and middle-income countries.

How do we know this?

Well about eight years ago, a group called Blacksmith Institute for a Pure Earth, founded by Richard Fuller (read this recent profile in Businessweek) started to make a list of the worst polluted places on the planet.  By the way, Blacksmith/Pure Earth and the affiliated group the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP) coordinate cleanup activities using a collaborative model.

So, I was starting a sabbatical at that time and Richard asked me to help out. Well our Toxic Sites Identification Program is now operating in 49 low-middle income countries and has assessed over 3,000 sites.

In the U.S. we would call these “Superfund sites” but the Blacksmith/Pure Earth list focuses more on human health impacts. If a site doesn’t present a real human health threat, we don’t include it. The superfund program doesn’t work quite the same way.

So what have we found is hundreds of sites contaminated with lead, mercury and chromium and the disease burden rivals that of many common diseases.

Before I elaborate on this statement, I need to explain the term “burden of disease.”

Years back, Christopher Murray and Allan Lopez developed a health metric while working with the WHO.  The Disability Adjusted Life Years or DALY measures the years of life lost from a disease or exposure.

For example, my uncle Gus was a three-pack-a-day smoker and died of lung cancer at the age of 45. According to the life tables, he should have live to 80, so smoking took 35 years from his life or 35 DALYs. But this metric also measures illness and converts it into equivalent years lost. For example, living 40 years with untreated asthma equals about two years of life lost. I encourage you to read more on DALYs and the Wiki page is quite good. In analyzing our data, we learned that:

  • In India, hexavalent chromium exposure causes more DALYs than multiple sclerosis, more than Parkinson’s disease and more than various cancers.
  • In Indonesia, exposure to chromium and lead presented higher DALYs than conditions such as upper respiratory infections.
  • In the Philippines, lead had more DALYs than malaria or HIV/AIDS. And those pictures of children with clef-palates that are used to solicit money? Well lead poisoning from these sites often generates much higher DALYs than that health condition.

So whether it is processing e-wastes, scavenging a landfill for recyclables or attempting to put a health number on fracking, more and more people using DALYs as the comparison health metric.

We published several papers on this and they are available online – read the GAHP Poisoned Poor report and the position paper “Pollution:  The Largest Cause of Death in the Developing World.”

So, why you should care?

Well as you know, many of our products are manufactured oversees in countries with practically no pollution controls and few safety standards.

The large corporations that we all read about are easy targets for improvement, but our experience is that there are thousands of small-scale manufactures that are collectively a bigger problem.

So the moral question becomes, what is our role? Both as a society and as individuals, in preventing environmental health disease in countries that supply our shirts, shoes, jewelry and cosmetics?

We, in the U.S., have the technology to properly recycle batteries, to safely extract gold from ore, to ensure that lead does not leach out of pottery, to properly dispose of obsolete pesticides, to ensure materials are recycled without causing harm.

In NYC it is safe to swim in the harbor (if you are crazy enough to do that), our air has never been cleaner, our workplaces are safer, and our food supply is free of the pesticides Rachel Carson wrote about years ago.

The U.S. has some environmental health issues… but I’m concerned as we get cleaner, the rest of the world is getting dirtier.

Especially the low income countries. And who suffers the most?  It is the poorest of the poor. So I do believe it is our obligation to transfer that technology and knowledge to others. So as I see it, not helping, is just not right.

And the solutions are simple and cost effective.

We have cleaned up old lead battery sites in Indonesia and the Dominican Republic for a fraction of what a U.S. Superfund cleanup costs. And now the environmental ministries in those countries know how it’s done.

So to reiterate, the health impact from exposure to toxic waste sites rivals that of other well-known and well-funded diseases.

As a matter of fact, the U.N.’s draft of the Sustainable Developmental Goals, recently omitted language addressing “toxics in the environment”. Fortunately, it looks like Blacksmith/Pure Earth was able to get the language reinstated.

EXAMPLES:

  • Tanneries in Bangladesh
  • Lead mining in Zamfara
  • Gold mining in Bolivia
  • Battery breaking in Indonesia
  • Obsolete pesticides in Armenia

Related Reading: