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Colombia: Protecting Children From Lead Poisoning in Malambo

Colombia:  Protecting Children From Lead Poisoning in Malambo
the details…
Key pollutant

The project is focused on excavating and disposing of contaminated soil at a former lead smelting location in conjunction with house cleaning, community education, and blood testing.

After performing rapid assessments at approximately fifty sites, the Pure Earth team
selected the communities of La Bonga and Vereda el Carmen in the municipality of
Malambo as priorities, due to significant contamination from three former lead recycling
plants. In March 2017, Pure Earth performed a detailed soil assessment in both communities

Pure Earth assembled a project team to design and implement an intervention. The team included professionals from diverse disciplines, including environmental and chemical engineering, hydrogeology, environmental health and community education. The intervention, which began in December 2017, includes the following major activities:

  • Community education for both adults and children.
  • BLL monitoring of 80 adults and 101 children.
  • Cleanup of the former foundry site in Vereda El Carmen, including excavation and burial of lead waste in geomembrane-lined dry holes in collaboration with the local government and environmental authority of Malambo.

Blood lead level tests were conducted in Malambo before the intervention in November 2017 with 181 participants and after in December 2018 with 98 participants; 47 participants participated in both studies. The results demonstrated a significant reduction in the average blood lead level of the total child population from 20.47 ug/dL to 14.01 ug/dL from 2017 to 2018. The greatest difference was evidenced in the village of Carmen where the average blood lead level in children was reduced from 31.1 ug/dL to 14.8 ug/dL from 2017 to 2018.

Pure Earth will continue to work with local environmental and health authorities in
Malambo. Read more about the cleanup in The Pollution Blog below: