Research Initiatives

Pure Earth maintains a georeferenced database of over 3,000 sites in about 50 countries. The organization focuses on quantifying the health impacts and economic burden of toxic pollution in low- and middle-income countries and is particularly interested in researching how various interventions can improve public health and economic outlook. Scientific and scholarly research papers that assess the scope of contaminated sites regionally or on a large scale are complemented with smaller, more targeted case studies. Current research efforts involve quantifying the burden of disease from point source pollution through various well-developed metrics such as Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) and IQ decrement. Some of our recent and ongoing research projects are listed below.

Major Publications & Reports

Data from Pure Earth’s Toxic Sites Identification Program (TSIP) has been used in the publication of several research papers, as well as quoted in a number of other publications.

Click here to see a list of publications and papers (including scientific articles and reports) from Pure Earth (formerly Blacksmith Institute) and partners.

Peer-Reviewed Scientific Papers and Commentaries

The Journal of Health and Pollution has released several articles using inventory data. See for a full list.

About Population Methodology:

When reviewing TSIP sites that are not yet approved, investigators are asked to review ‘population estimate explanation’ to check that the reasoning behind the population estimate is sound.  Examples of sound population estimate include  census data, satellite data (counting houses and estimating population), other facts/figures (i.e. if a school yard is contaminated, reviewing the number of students who play there on average).  Local knowledge or staff expertise can also be considered valid if other methods have been exhausted. Soil, air, or water migration should be explained.

For sites with populations higher than 20,000, review  will rely on staff expertise (i.e. for Latin America, Daniel in Mexico, Amalia in Uruguay, and Gaspar in Argentina) since they have visited many of the sites. For soil, investigators can use Google Earth or other satellite data to approximate the correct number of people in a ½ km radius of the site (based on numbers of houses), since soil migration can be assumed at no more than 0.5 kms. Water depends on the source (i.e. lake, river, etc) and counting the number of people that are exposed via all pathways (dermal, ingestion, etc). Estimating the number of people at risk from contaminated air is the most difficult because significant migration can occur. However, these represent only a handful of samples in the TSIP database and will rely on best known methods.