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Effort Launching in Brazil to Identify and Map Toxic Pollution Hotspots Threatening Health of Children and Families; Laying Groundwork for Cleanup

Nov. 16, 2016, New York, NY —Pure Earth, an international nonprofit that works to clean up some of the world’s worst polluted communities, is launching an effort in Brazil, with a grant from Alcoa Foundation, to identify, assess and map toxic hotspots posing health threats to children and families. The effort is part of Pure Earth’s global Toxic Sites Identification Program (TSIP), which has screened more than 3000 toxic sites worldwide in over 50 countries.

The project will contribute to advance Brazil’s efforts to address its pollution problems. Over 90,000 deaths a year (or 7% of total deaths in the country) are due to pollution (according to the IHME Global Burden of Disease database 2013). Children are the most vulnerable–toxic pollution causes physical and neurological developmental delays that can last a lifetime.

The information collected by Pure Earth for the TSIP in the selected states in Brazil will be shared with the country’s state and federal governments, giving them the ability to plan and prioritize the cleanup of the worst sites with the biggest health risks in order to save lives and prevent future damage.

“Before any country can begin to take action against toxic pollution, leaders must understand the scale, severity and sources of pollution. They also need to know how pollution is affecting their citizens, and where it is occurring. Unfortunately, that data is scarce, especially in low- and middle-income countries, where pollution is the largest cause of death,” says Richard Fuller, President of Pure Earth.

“This grant will help the Brazilian government plan and prioritize cleanup, and raise awareness of the feasibility of solutions. We are glad for the support of Alcoa Foundation and to be working with the people of Brazil.”

At present, data on pollution in Brazil is not widely available. The government of Brazil has recognized the need to have detailed pollution data from across the country. This project will be based on Pure Earth’s earlier work in the State of Sao Paulo.

The grant from Alcoa Foundation not only enables Pure Earth to expand its TSIP in another state beyond Sao Paulo, it also supports the design of a guidance document for toxic site identification that can be used in every state across Brazil.

Pure Earth’s project will focus on the northeast states in Brazil, such as Bahia y Paraiba, Alagoas and Sergipe. In this region, present and past industrial activities (such as the production and recycling of lead-acid batteries, the use of pesticides in agriculture and chromium compounds in tanneries) have created a broad range of pollution problems in an unknown number of communities. A review and analysis of contaminated sites and sources of pollution will be carried out in these states. The TSIP will then be implemented in one selected state.

Over 100 site assessments will be conducted in the selected state by local investigators trained by Pure Earth. Data will be collected on the scale, severity, and sources of pollution, as well as its impacts on health, poverty, and economic growth. Assessed sites in the state will be ranked according to potential health risk to the population.

Since 2009, Pure Earth’s TSIP investigators in over 50 countries have screened more than 3,000 sites, resulting in the world’s largest toxic site database of its kind. In Latin America, the TSIP has been implemented in countries such as Uruguay, Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Chile, and Bolivia. The TSIP is supported by the European Commission, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, USAID, among others.

Contact: Magdalene Sim, [email protected]

About Pure Earth (formerly Blacksmith Institute)

Pure Earth’s mission is to identify and clean up the poorest communities throughout the developing, world where high concentrations of toxins have devastating health effects. Pure Earth devises cleanup strategies, empowers local champions and secures support from national and international partnerships. Interventions to mitigate these toxic exposures while protecting livelihoods have proven to be manageable, cost-effective, and eminently do-able. By partnering with and empowering local champions we clean up chemical and waste legacy toxic hotspots, prevent re-contamination and guard against future pollution. Visit and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

About Alcoa Foundation

Alcoa Foundation’s predecessor, currently known as Legacy Alcoa Foundation (and formerly known as Alcoa Foundation), was founded in 1952 as one of the few endowed corporate foundations in the United States. As a result of the separation of Alcoa Inc. into Alcoa Corporation and Arconic Inc. in November 2016, two new foundations were formed, into which the assets of Legacy Alcoa Foundation were transferred. One of the newly formed foundations, known now as Alcoa Foundation, is the foundation associated with Alcoa Corporation. Alcoa Foundation is the sponsor going forward of this Pure Earth grant. Today, Alcoa Foundation invests where Alcoa Corporation has a presence, providing grants that contribute to environmental excellence around the world, particularly in the areas of biodiversity conservation and climate change research. Learn more at and follow @AlcoaFoundation on Twitter.