Solve pollution. Save lives. Protect the planet.

December 19, 2022

Join us on a walk through a community in Vellore with Sandeep Dahiya, Pure Earth India’s Director of Strategic Communications. 

The people of Rangapuram, Vellore, India, are busy, have less educational opportunities, and are not very  aware of lead exposure and its harmful health impacts. We needed to urgently and immediately connect with residents who were at the highest risk of lead poisoning–the people living in and around a polluted site, where a former lead smelter was located. This area included a school and day care center and approximately 55 homes.

Based on our experience working with similar communities and our limited budget, I knew that we could use visual art to raise awareness and educate this community to take action to stop the poisoning and keep their families safe.

Members of the Pure Earth team in Vellore.

The directly impacted and most vulnerable population resided in a small area. To make the most of limited available resources, we chose wall murals for community awareness, a comic book for kids, and an information brochure and a lead report card for parents. Unfortunately, local television and radio ads were out of our budget.

I believe that visuals/pictures can convey a thousand words, and art has massive power to move people to social change. Unfortunately, I am not much of an artist myself. But with the support of the Pure Earth team and local artists, we were able to come up with some simple and inspirational art that was tailored to communicate our message in an easy-to-understand manner.  The focus was on the importance of a healthy mind to live healthy lives free from exposure to lead pollution (lead is a potent neurotoxin that causes irreparable harm to children’s brains).

Below are a few examples of what we brought to the community in Vellore.


Murals always catch my attention. They make me stop, even for just  a moment, to think about the message, and to take photos to share on social media. I remember this experience–these thoughts, moments and emotions–every time I pass those murals. So taking inspiration from this, we drew beautiful pictures on the walls of the school, kindergarten, and around the community on individual houses and water tanks. Now these murals are part of that community, and residents will be reminded about the dangers of lead, and how to stay safe, every time they leave their home.

A lead-free healthy brain can do wonders, like think creatively to research and innovate.

Murals inside a school classroom keep our message front and center.
A mural depicting a calm and liberated brain on the wall of a house on the main road.
Murals near the community water tank ensure they reach everyone in the village.
The author of this post with a mural featuring a bright mind illuminating the dark.
Paintings decorate the walls of a house, highlighting how healthy minds lead to better learning.
Children explore the mural.
What can a healthy mind do? These murals answer the question. Children who are not lead poisoned have the potential to be anything they want to be, from a scientist…
… to a musician.

Comic Book

To reach children, who are most vulnerable to lead poisoning, we produced and distributed comic books to teach them about sources of lead, and ways to protect themselves.

Parents and kids participating in a Pure Earth Community Educational Program.


These materials helped us reach our most vulnerable and impacted audiences where they were. The artworks became part of their everyday environment without causing any discomfort, and instead, the murals boosted them with hopeful and positive thoughts. 

Our work and regular dialogue with Rangapuram residents created a powerful and lasting memory and emotion both in parents and kids. It raised their awareness about the importance of a healthy mind and moved them to be more conscious of lead issues and its impact on brain development. It motivated them to act on solutions–the lead smelting operation was closed down, community members participated in the lead removal and cleanup, and children started following general hygiene like washing hands with soap before eating.

The substandard lead battery recycling operation was shit down, eliminating the source of lead pollution.
Children now understand the importances of washing their hands with soap before eating to protect themselves from lead poisoning.
Community members have told us how grateful they are for Pure Earth’s lead remediation work and education efforts to protect them from lead.


This post is from Sandeep Dahiya, Pure Earth India’s Director of Strategic Communications.


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