Reduce pollution. Save lives. Protect the planet.

In most of the communities we work, people being exposed to dangerous toxic substances are not aware of the risk and don’t know how they can protect themselves and their children. That is why public education campaigns are an important part of every project we run.

Here are examples of materials our project teams around the world have developed to inform and protect people in the communities where we work.

Indonesia

Indonesian educational materials were made in conjunction with the Mercury Contamination from Artisanal Gold Mining Project in Central Kalimantan. The project, which began in February 2009, has identified 250 small-scale artisanal gold mining hotspots, created by over 300,000 miners in the region. UNIDO estimates that mercury amalgamation from this kind of gold mining results in the release of an estimated 1,000 tons of mercury per year, which constitutes about 30 percent of the world’s anthropogenic mercury emissions. Once released into the environment, mercury can damage economic, environmental and human health. YTS, a local NGO, has partnered with Pure Earth to expand the use of mercury retorts and water-box condensers in these artisanal mining areas, in order to reduce the amount of mercury used by miners and mitigate health impacts.

Mexico

For 400 years, ceramics artisans in Mexico have been using lead in glaze for traditional pottery. It is an important livelihood activity for more than 50,000 artisans in 20 states. Unfortunately, lead is highly toxic, especially to children. Use of lead in glaze has poisoned artisans and their families, and contaminated ecosystems and wildlife. These materials were made as part of the Barro Aprobado Project, started in the state of Morelos, Mexico in May 2003. The project seeks to raise public awareness about the dangers of leaded pottery, while and promoting the use and production of lead-free pottery.

The Philippines

Many of the educational materials produced for circulation in the Philippines were made by the Protecting Livelihoods, Human and Ecosystem Health Project team. The project aims to reduce the human health risks posed by toxic pollution in the Meycauayan-Marilao-Obando River System (MMORS), which is home to an extensive aquaculture industry. Proposed by Blacksmith Institute through Blacksmith Institute Philippines, Inc., the project was approved by the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC) in January 2013. This initiative is now under the HSBC Water Programme, a five-year program launched in 2012 and supported in the Philippines through the HSBC Global Banking and Markets Service Centers.

Russia

Russian educational materials were created for the Dalnegorsk-Rudnaya Project. Conducted from May 2007 through December 2012 in collaboration with the Far Eastern Environmental Health Fund and Terragraphics Environmental Engineering, the project sought to reduce the toxic concentration of lead left by mining activities in the Rudnaya River Valley in Eastern Russia. The materials were later distributed in other areas of Russia, as well as Shymkent, Kazakhstan. Similar education materials and methods were also used in Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan.

Tajikistan

In Tajikistan, many pesticide warehouses dating from the Soviet Union era are abandoned and leaching dangerous pesticides into the environment. Many of these warehouses are accessible to the public, and in residential farming areas children run and play around piles of these dangerous chemicals. In 2018, Pure Earth convened a meeting, with support from the European Union, bringing together 22 organizations across Tajikistan to receive training in environmental and health assessment methods to address the problem in their communities.  This has led to the creation of education materials for the public about the health dangers of these pesticide piles. The next phase of the project will include the assessment of toxic sites in multiple regions so that priorities can be set for action.

Vietnam

Community education was a primary component in Pure Earth’s work during the Dong Mai Village Project in Vietnam. The project, spanning from August 2013 to September 2014, sought remediate a severe epidemic of lead poisoning in Dong Mai Village, Chi Dao Commune, Van Lam District Vietnam. The village had become a toxic site over decades of informal car battery processing in the area. During this process, lead plates are removed from battery casings by hand and cleaned of lead oxide and sulfide dusts that have accumulated on their exteriors. These dusts are very fine and easily inhaled. The project resulted in a decline in blood lead levels in all age groups and at all levels of exposure.

Zambia

Public education materials were given out in Zambia during the first phase of the Pilot Lead Remediation Project in Kabwe from August to December 2015. Lead mining and smelting operations were run almost continuously in Kabwe for over 90 years without adequately addressing the potential contamination. The project team conducted a comprehensive environmental assessment in Kabwe, in order to understand where the persisting lead hotspots are within the community and to identify relevant exposure pathways. Then, as part of a plan to conduct targeted pilot interventions, the team carried out blood lead level testing and cleanup efforts, starting with the most severely contaminated neighborhoods and prioritizing children’s health and safety.

Bolivia

A number of education materials were made in association with the ASGM Borax Training and NGO Capacity Building Project in central Bolivia. Beginning in October 2014, the project sought to encourage mercury-free mining practices among the artisanal gold miners of the region, and asses the viability of Borax as an alternative to mercury. The materials were produced by Plagbol, one of Pure Earth’s Bolivian partners.

Colombia

Resources from our Partners and Colleagues