Reduce pollution. Save lives. Protect the planet.

Zacatecas #95, Colonia Roma, Cuauhtémoc, Ciudad de México, Mexico CP: 06700

Our Team

Country Director
[email protected]


Institutional Development Coordinator


Operations Coordinator


About Pure Earth Country’s Mexico

Widespread low-level lead poisoning is one of Mexico’s most critical yet unknown public health concerns. Lead in traditional pottery glaze mixes with acidic foods–like coffee, chili peppers, tomatoes and lemons–-and quickly enters bodies’ digestive systems and bloodstreams.

What is the true scope of lead poisoning in Mexico? Pure Earth has been working with researchers in Mexico, including Dr. Martha María Téllez Rojo, a lead expert with INSP, for over a decade to call attention to the health impacts from lead-glazed pottery. For the first time, we have a clearer picture from a health survey conducted by the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) in Mexico, “National report of blood lead levels and use of glazed mud in vulnerable children.”

The results reveal that at least one million children between one and four years of age (representing 22% of the study population) have elevated blood lead levels above 5 μg/dL (Note: while there is no safe level of lead, the CDC recommends health intervention at levels of 5 μg/dL and above).

“It is important to realize that this figure will rise because this result covers ONLY children living in towns with less than 100,000 inhabitants. When data from other areas of the country are analyzed, the number of children confirmed with elevated blood lead levels will most certainly go beyond the one million mark,” says Daniel Estrada, head of Pure Earth Mexico and one of the co-authors of the report. Our estimates based on extrapolation from our site assessments and including children under 14, is 13 million with elevated blood lead levels.

Up to 20% of Mexicans are poisoned by the pottery they use for daily meals at home and in restaurants across the country. Lead in traditional pottery glaze mixes with acidic foods–like coffee, chili peppers, tomatoes, and lemons–and quickly enters bodies’ digestive systems and bloodstreams.

Since 2008, Pure Earth has been working with local authorities in Mexico to address the issue of lead in pottery. Pure Earth’s Barro Aprobado project is working to raise awareness about the dangers of leaded pottery, and to promote the use and production of lead-free pottery.

The World Organization Health considers lead to be one of the most dangerous known chemicals to human health and acknowledges that no blood lead level is safe.

El Plomo en la Mesa Report

In Mexico, lead is still present in a wide array of everyday items, such as imported cosmetics, commercial candies, certain household paints, and car and electronic batteries, among others. Active and abandoned mines, metallurgy, and the lead-acid battery recycling industry are also major sources of lead-acid exposure. However, lead-oxide glaze that is traditionally used in pottery has been identified as the main cause of chronic poisoning nationwide.

Fortunately, there are solutions to this challenge. Eliminating sources of lead exposure is not only feasible but also affordable. Moreover, it can generate economic benefits. The WHO confirms that: “The economic benefits of successful interventions against lead poisoning have also proven to be enormous. These benefits far outweigh the costs of creating a national screening program, surveillance, and primary prevention of lead poisoning.”

Since this challenge is primarily linked with the pottery sector, specific interventions that facilitate artisans’ transition to lead-free glazes, while at the same time monitor the blood lead levels of children, will produce significant benefits for both the public health and the economic growth of Mexico.

Read the full report (in Spanish) here.

Watch the video of the report briefing here.


Pollution is responsible for 7.6% of deaths in Mexico. Learn more about how pollution affects health and the economy in Mexico by reading the Mexico Summary Report, based on the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health.

The Toxic Truth

They seek to ignite a national culture of pottery use

Barrio con Barro is a project that the international organization Pure Earth, with the support of the Clarios Foundation, through its Barro Approved program in Mexico, wants to implement in the Roma neighborhood, Cuauhtémoc mayor’s office, in order to convert This area is in a place where the supply and demand for pottery is high, lead-free, and has the institutional support of authorities, commercial groups, organized civil society and other local institutions, said Daniel Estrada, director of that NGO in Mexico.


Programmatic Solutions

Research on Lead Sources
Research on Lead Sources

In Mexico, the primary source of lead is lead-glazed pottery; we constantly measure blood lead levels and interview people with high Blood Lead Levels to identify other possible sources of lead.

Toxic Site Assessments
Toxic Site Assessments

The TSIP program was active in Mexico from 2012 until 2018, with the rapid assessment of more than 150 sites reviewed on

Lead Remediation Program
Lead Remediation Program

We promote lead remediation through clean-ups of potter studies that no longer use lead-based glazes. We encourage communities to replace lead-glazed pottery with lead-free pottery in their restaurants, stores, and houses.

Advocacy and Campaigns
Advocacy and Campaigns

We work in coordination with the General Health Council to eliminate the use of lead-glazed pottery in Mexico.


Barrio con Barro

October 24-30th, 2021

Our Partners and Donors

  • Clarios Foundation
  • Fondo Canadá
  • Consejo de Salubridad General
  • Pacto por la Primera Infancia
  • Universidad Autónoma de Morelos
  • Canirac Zona Norte de la Ciudad de México