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Jamaica: Reducing the Threats of Toxic Chemical Pollution

the details…
Date started
Nov. 2017
Project Partners

International Centre for Environment and Nuclear Science (ICENS) at the University of the West Indies; Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation

Jamaica was selected to be part of the USAID Project “Reducing the Threats of Toxic Chemical Pollution to Human Health in Low- and Middle-Income Countries”.

A 2006 study had found an average of 7.3 ug/dL of lead in blood for an island-wide survey of 1,081 school age children, with the highest blood lead levels found mainly in poor areas in Kingston, St. Andrew Corporate Area and St. Catherine. The elevated blood lead levels were potentially attributed to legacy used lead acid battery recycling (ULAB) operations.

The first meeting between Pure Earth and the Government of Jamaica was in October 2016. A Steering Committee was then created to determine the course of the project as well as to evaluate the results. The committee was comprised of members representing the following: Ministry of Economic Growth & Job Creation; Planning Institute of Jamaica; Ministry of Health, Environmental Health Unit; Ministry of Health, Pesticides Control Authority; National Solid Waste Management Authority; National Environment Planning Agency and the National Environment Planning Agency.

In summary, a total of 16 sites in Jamaica were added to TSIP (Toxic Sites Identification Program) database. Ten sites were considered to potentially pose a significant risk to population from lead exposure. These sites require additional investigation concerning the extent and impact of lead contamination, including an assessment of potential exposure routes. The 10 sites are described below.

The following recommendations were provided to the Jamaican government:

  • Future sites should be added to the TSIP database to track development and to manage toxic hotspots more adequately.
  • Regular and nationwide health surveys that include blood lead level measurement is an effective way to detect lead sources.
  • Stakeholders should endeavor to develop a more open and transparent approach towards toxic hotspot management, which reduces fears from the community about sharing information.
  • While currently the issue of toxins in Jamaica is not widespread, this situation may change soon. Proper legislation and regulations would help avoid future negative health impacts on the population.
  • A national plan that addresses issues of contamination should be conducted by the national government to properly address contaminated sites