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RMS Project: Rapid Marketplace Screening in Bangladesh

the details…
Key pollutant
Lead
Date started
December 2021
Funders
GiveWell

Research Outcome: RMS Bangladesh Phase 01 Infographics

Lead in the household is pervasive across the globe and leads to chronic exposures, as local customs may result in the ubiquitous use of lead contaminated or adulterated products, such as spices, cookware, and other sources. In July 2021, GiveWell recommended a grant of $8 million to Pure Earth to work on reducing lead exposure in low- and middle-income countries. With this grant, Pure Earth is conducting Regional Rapid Marketplace Screenings (RMS) in 25 countries including Bangladesh to identify lead-containing products and prioritize countries for future interventions. This grant aims to:

  • Identify likely sources of lead exposure in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Implement interventions to reduce lead exposure from the most important sources.
  • Conduct baseline and endline analyses of blood lead levels to estimate the effect of the interventions.

In Bangladesh, the RMS project intervention started with analyzing the basic demographic and potential lead sources information through a rigorous desk review. The protocol for marketplace screenings was informed by such regional reviews of published literature on local Pb sources to inform initial sampling and analysis of products, commodities and substances that may contain lead in the country. 

The identified potential sources from DRR were: 

  • Spices
  • Ceramics/pottery
  • Cookware from recycled aluminum
  • Medicines
  • Cosmetics 
  • Sweets
  • Toys
  • Paints 
  • Other foods and non-food items

Using the information from the DRR, the investigative officers in Bangladesh proceeded to complete formative research (FR) by screening selected markets and obtaining products for XRF testing of lead content. The initial FR screening of products in Bangladesh in turn guided a larger and more formal and comprehensive sampling and testing of selected products in the country. The second phase of RMS is ongoing and the results are soon to be published.

Besides market screening the project will also do the followings:

    • Baseline BLL analysis on stored blood and endline blood collection and BLL analysis using atomic absorption spectrometry among 500 pregnant women and 500 children living in three rural districts of Bangladesh: Mymensingh, Kishoregani, and Tangail. Turmeric sampling also.
    • Follow-up post-intervention BLL assessment among 150 children in Mushiniganj.
    • Follow-up with turmeric producers and food safety regulators to ensure no further adulteration. Follow-up post-intervention BLL assessment among 70 children at the Kathgora remediation site.
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