Pure Earth is working to reduce health risk from lead pollution in and around the Indian city of Patna, the capital of Bihar State. Like many cities in India, neighborhoods in Patna are contaminated with lead resulting from the informal recycling of automobile batteries (used lead-acid batteries, or ULABs). In April of 2015, preliminary soil sampling was conducted throughout ULAB recycling areas around Patna. We identified lead contamination in soil that was more than 1000 above US EPA standards in locations where children play.
Pure Earth is helping India solve these pollution problems both locally and nationally. Locally, we work with small-scale industries to improve industrial processes and prevent future pollution releases. Once we have stopped ongoing pollution, we cleanup existing toxic contamination of local soil and water. For example, India has thousands of “mom and pop” car battery recyclers that spread lead dust throughout their communities. Lead is a neurotoxin, and lead dust is incredibly dangerous for children. Pure Earth works with these recyclers directly to modify their practices and stop lead dust emissions. Next, we conduct simple yet effective community cleanup projects to reduce health risks from lead dust released in the past. This model is proven to lower the amount of toxic lead in children’s blood.
Nationally, we formed a powerful coalition called the Indian Alliance on Health and Pollution with two other Indian organizations—the Council on Energy, Environment and Water and the Public Health Foundation of India. The combined experience and reputations of these partners allows the Alliance to shift public policy and empower the public with information and tools to ensure government accountability on pollution. The Alliance is a juggernaut for positive change.