3rd Floor Vega Center, Lopez Avenue, Los Baños, Laguna 4031, Philippines
About Pure Earth Philippines
Since 2008, Pure Earth has been identifying and tackling toxic pollutants in the Philippines through assessments of contaminated sites; pilot remediations, multi-stakeholder coordination, education, and industrial process reviews. To date, over 150 toxic sites have been assessed, and more than 25% were lead-contaminated. In addition to these assessments, Pure Earth has worked on the ground in priority areas, such as areas where Used Lead Acid Battery (ULAB) recycling is prevalent — developing plans and implementing cleanup projects.
The IHME data recently released in Pure Earth’s The Toxic Truth Report (co-authored with UNICEF) estimates 20 million children in the Philippines (50%) have blood lead levels above the 5 ug/dL, ranking the country in the world’s top 20 of number of children lead poisoned.
Furthermore, in 2011, lead exposure incurred a cost of $15,019,373,494 to GDP which was 6.4% of total GDP ($234.217 billion) and 3.7 times tourism’s contribution to GDP ($4.043 billion).
The Philippine’s lead problem has been grossly under-estimated and under-recognized and requires targeted study so that effective interventions based on source and severity are developed, financed and implemented.
This wide-scale lead exposure, especially among children and child-bearing women, needs to better understood. Pure Earth plans to analyze and aggregate existing data and also invest in filling the data gaps to systematically characterize lead’s health risks to children throughout the most impacted regions in the country and the sources in order to develop a national action plan.
In 2017, the Philippines was among the top three growth performers in the Southeast Asia region. However, there are also environmental concerns besetting the country as it pursues further economic development. Despite these challenges, the Philippine Development Plan highlights that “individuals and communities will be made more resilient by reducing their exposure to risks, mitigating the impact of risks, and accelerating recovery when the risk materializes.” Pure Earth’s work in the Philippines is very much aligned with this. Since 2008, Pure Earth has been focused on a combination of pollution identification and abatement in order to protect vulnerable populations.
The Toxic Sites Identification Program (TSIP) is Pure Earth’s flagship program. Pure Earth Philippines has entered around 250 sites into the database. These are resulting from targeted and investigative assessments. From the targeted assessments, Pure Earth was able to conduct exposure mitigation work in a lead contaminated site, protecting families especially children otherwise threatened by lead. From the more recent investigative site assessments, Pure Earth has succeeded in blanketing cities testing the grounds for heavy metal contamination, the resulting data of which are now being integrated in local government policies and programs i.e. land use and development, disaster risk reduction and management, climate change mitigation and adaptation, environmental codes and waste management plans.
In addition to TSIP, Pure Earth Philippines’ programming includes a mix of environmental health projects and initiatives. These include the following: forming a water quality management area board; sampling and analyzing river water, sediment, and biota for heavy metals; pilot testing pollution control technologies for tannery, gold smelting and fish farming industries; developing a river water and sediment quality monitoring database; spearheading volunteer activities like river and coastal clean-ups, plogging, tree planting in watersheds, and mangrove nursery establishment; conducting information, education and communication (IEC) campaigns in schools, trainings for government stakeholders in the areas of strategic planning, policy development, environmental law enforcement, assessing used lead acid battery (ULAB) recycling facilities, initial site assessment of toxic sites, water quality monitoring, GIS mapping and database utilization; blood lead level testing; and conducting medical surveillance among others. Pure Earth has also presented findings at high level meetings, in an attempt to get pollution included in national priorities. The latest effort towards this end was the Health and Pollution Action Planning (HPAP) in the country, the resulting plan being a supplement to the already existing Philippines National Environmental Action Plan (NEHAP).
Given these significant strides, Pure Earth Philippines continues to trailblaze the fight against life-threatening pollution. In 2021, it is embarking on the first ever inclusion of blood lead level (BLL) testing in the National Nutrition Survey. This effort is just the beginning and thus, Pure Earth continues to seek and welcome partners with the aim of understanding the status of lead poisoning in children in the country in order to make headway into exposure source identification, intervention development and implementation across concerned sectors.
Identifying Childhood Lead Poisoning in the Philippines
With the global lead poisoning crisis affecting 1 in 3 children, or around 800 million children around the world, this innovative model has the potential to make a big impact on children’s health.
- New Research Confirms Findings Of Childhood Lead Poisoning Crisis In Low- And Middle-Income Countries (March 2021)
- Pure Earth, Clarios Foundation and UNICEF launch Protecting Every Child’s Potential: A Future Free from Lead Exposure (October 2020)
- A third of the world’s children poisoned by lead, new groundbreaking analysis says, UNICEF and Pure Earth (July 2020)
- Pure Earth, Clarios Foundation and UNICEF announce global partnership to protect children from lead exposure (July 2020)
Stay up to date with our work:
Metro News Central (Philippines) Oct 30th, 2018
Find public education materials and research:
- HPAP: Philippines
- Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health- Philippines Summary
- Institute of Health Metrics – Philippines Data
- Pamphlet used to educate students, teachers, and HSBC volunteers on upcycling, and Meycauayan-Marilao-Obando River System pollution
- Display in honor of the 2014 Fisheries Conservation Week viewed by students, teachers, HSBC volunteers, fishermen, and government officials and representatives
- Pamphlet on mangrove conservation made in honor of the World Water Day 2014 celebration
- Fact sheet on heavy metal toxicity given to health workers, environmental officers, and the Environment Bureau, government officials and representatives, teachers, and WQMA board members
- Pamphlet on river quality management given to government representatives and members of the Environment Bureau, as well as fisherman and members of the Barangay Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (BFARM-C)
- Poison prevention exhibit for health workers, as well as government officials and members of the Environment Bureau
- Pamphlet on fish farm management viewed by students, teachers, HSBC volunteers, fisherman, and government officials and representatives
- Display on nutrition viewed by students, teachers, HSBC volunteers, health workers, and government officials
- Lead Fact Sheet
- Plogging in the Philippines: HSBC and Pure Earth Raise Awareness About Pollution (August 2019)
- HSBC Volunteers Take Action Against River Pollution in the Philippines (October 2018)
- Keeping Two-Year-Old Dexter and His Friends Safe From Lead Poisoning in Pampanga (August 2018)
- Mapping Pollution in the Philippines (August 2018)
- Notes from the Field: A Week in the Life of a Pure Earth Staffer in the Philippines (May 2017)