Córdoba #234, Roma Norte, Cuauhtémoc, Ciudad de México.
Director of Operations
CARMINA JURE CADERÓN
Institutional Development Coordinator
Pure Earth Mexico
Pure Earth developed high-impact country programs to eradicate the use of lead glazes in Mexican pottery. We work closely with potter communities, restaurateurs, companies, and opinion leaders to protect this ancient tradition and find sustainable solutions for lead-poisoning prevention in Mexico.
Lead poisoning in Mexico is a major problem. It affects many aspects of society. According to the 2019 National Health Study, ENSANUT, almost 20 percent of children have lead levels in blood at dangerous levels. In some states close to 50 percent are affected. It is the poor who suffer the most. Lead at these levels causes permanent brain damage in babies.
The implications are extraordinary: a loss of intelligence (3 to 5 IQ points), a loss of educational attainment on average of about one year; an increase in cardiovascular disease and substantially more deaths from stroke and heart attack, an increase in kidney disease, and an increase in violent crime.
In Mexico, the main source of lead poisoning is the glaze used in artisanal Mexican pottery. These pots, an iconic Mexican tradition, are usually made in small, family-run kilns, often by indigenous communities. The lead is used in the glaze to prevent liquids from leaching and to give color and shine. Lead poisoning is a serious problem in the homes of these artisans as well as their customers, where very high levels of lead in soil and blood can be found.
The solution is straightforward. They can transition to using lead-free glaze, which is similarly priced and has a similar appearance. Training is needed to change to that glaze, as there are important differences in technique, and changes in glaze sourcing. Some kilns may need to be upgraded, and the areas surrounding the converted kilns need to be remediated.
There are around 10,000 small and medium-sized industries making Mexican pottery. Converting them to be lead-free requires a concerted effort from many sectors.
Awareness Campaign #SinPlomoEnlaMesa/#Lead-FreeTable
Pure Earth Mexico launches the first edition of the annual campaign #SinPlomoEnLaMesa to raise awareness of the importance of lead-poisoning prevention actions and the benefits of lead-free pottery.
Over ten corporate allies supported the campaign with in-kind donations and lead-poisoning awareness messages to their clientele.
Visit #SinPlomoEnLaMesa web page
Pure Earth’s Kitchen
Ancestral recipes and everyday classics using traditional pottery
and spices for lead-free cuisine
Pure Earth’s Kitchen is a cookbook of Mexican and Indian cuisine with 50 recipes that call for lead-free clay and spices. Contributors to this book spanned thirteen chefs, two cooks, one turmeric producer, and seven potters from Pure Earth’s Circle of Women project. They come from countries as diverse as Mexico, India, France, USA, Singapore, and Germany. Above all, this cookbook highlights the rich materials given to us by the natural world– clay in Mexico and spices in India– to honor heritage and make healthy, delicious food. It also invites us to join the global movement to stop lead pollution and poisoning. We hope that you enjoy this global effort to preserve tradition and create a healthier world. Visit Pure Earth’s Kitchen
Hope Begins with Lead Solutions
Education begins with lead solutions
Having available schools and effective learning programs will not result in quality education if children are unable to learn due to cognitive impairment produced by Lead Poisoning. Studies show that lead levels in blood of more than 5 micrograms per deciliter are associated to an IQ loss of more than 5 points.
Development begins with lead solutions
Lead poisoning is passed from one generation to the next. If toxic lead levels continue in the environment, families will continue to suffer from lead poisoning-related problems. This will continue to affect their ability to develop and reach their full potential, thus perpetuating the poverty cycle. Lead poisoning affects lives and has an impact on the national economy.
Protection begins with lead solutions
Lead poisoning in children can produce behavioral disorders that are often related to, sometimes aggressive, disciplinary measures. This is more common in low-income communities where lead poisoning is more frequent, and lack of health services prevent from proper diagnosis and treatment.
Helath begins with lead solutions
Premature brain aging, anemia, kidney damage, cardiovascular disease, and harm to pregnant women and developing children are health issues related to Lead Poisoning. Health services that do not test blood for lead poisoning are providing inadequate treatment that is costly and ineffective.
Advocacy begins with lead solutions awareness
Lead Poisoning is still an invisible problem in many developing communities. The lack of awareness and advocacy result in limited prevention programs, low solutions reinforcement, restricted political actions, and limited support. Without a strong common voice, that spurs immediate and effective action and sustainable measures, lead poisoning will continue to affect thousands of people. The key is better prevention to reduce the need of correction. The key is to enforce existing law to assess further legislation. The key is public and private engagement.
Is not about using less, is about using better. The key to sustainable transformation
Only 1% of all pottery in Mexico is lead-free! There are technical, cultural, and commercial issues that need to be considered for an effective solution. Pure Earth has over 15 years of experience developing a sustainable transformation.
Partners and Donors
A new generation comes together for Lead Solutions
Children from pottery communities tell children from Clarios personnel about the pottery process and the importance of using lead-free pottery.
Lead poisoning affects the development and health of 800 million children worldwide. In Mexico, the main source of contamination comes from food prepared in clay pots enameled with lead. For this reason, Pure Earth México and Clarios -during the Clarios Kids event this past August 5, achieved a bridge of communication for children where girls and boys from pottery communities told how traditional Mexican pottery is made and the actions that are taken to achieve lead-free products. Thus, new generations join this cause.
Sofía, Carolina, Edgar, and Samuel told step by step how pottery works in their family. They invited them to their homes and their workshops where they showed with great joy how they play, have fun, and express themselves. In addition, they told us how important it is for them to protect the tradition and at the same time prevent lead from reaching other children.
Events like this one help more people, especially girls and boys, learn not only about the problems caused by lead poisoning but also about the solution that has been taking place in Mexico for 15 years. At the same time, they learn to value traditional Mexican pottery which is the livelihood of thousands of families.
LEAD-FREE POTTERY IN MEXICO MMAPO MUSEUM EXHIBIT (Complete article in Spanish)
The first exhibition of its kind, that showcases more than 250 works made of clay, some unglazed and many more glazed with lead-free products. It is an exhibition sale in collaboration with the non-profit organization PURE EARTH, which is dedicated to finding sustainable solutions to priority problems of pollutants that put the lives and development of communities around the world at risk.
Find public education materials and research:
- Pamphlet for parents containing 4 tips on how to protect themselves and their families from lead poisoning
- Poster to educate community members on how to test if their pottery contains led
- Pamphlet given to community members outlining necessary steps to determine if there is led paint in their homes, and how to protect themselves if lead is found
- Pamphlet given to parents to instruct them on how to protect their children from lead poisoning
- Pamphlet for community members on the process and effects of lead poisoning, as well as the legal improvements that have been made overtime to limit lead exposure
- Pamphlet given to community members explaining the Barro Aprobado Project and the effects of lead poisoning