Ministry of Health; Fundacion Osvaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ)
When Pure Earth visited the town of Maragogipinho, Brazil, in 2017 as part of the Toxic Sites Identification Program (TSIP), the team found lead concentrations in soil as high as 44,500 ppm (the EPA level for concern is 400 ppm for residential soil). The source of lead contamination was artisanal pottery made with leaded glaze.
Maragogipinho is not alone. Pure Earth’s Barro Aprobado project has been working on a similar problem in Mexico, where about 70% of the population have elevated blood levels due to the use of lead-based glazes in traditional pottery that is used in many homes and restaurants across the country. Besides Mexico and Brazil, the problem of lead in traditional pottery can also be found in regions in the Middle East and countries such as Peru and Bolivia.
Because of the similarity of the contamination problem plaguing the communities, Pure Earth experts immediately realized that what they were doing in Mexico could be applied to Maragogipinho. It would be the perfect way to help eliminate lead contamination, preserve tradition and build solidarity.