Pollution has significant health impacts in Brazil. Over 90,000 deaths a year (or 7% of total deaths in the country) are due to pollution (according to the IHME Global Burden of Disease database 2013). However, the real number is likely higher, as many pollution risk factors such as those related to soil pollution are not included in these estimates . Children are the most vulnerable– toxic pollution causes physical and neurological developmental delays that can last a lifetime.
While Pure Earth’s engagement in Brazil began in 2006 with isolated site screenings, implementation of the comprehensive Toxic Sites Identification Program (TSIP) did not begin until 2015. The program is dedicated to identifying and evaluating contaminated sites in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) with the potential to impact human health. TSIP is not intended to be a comprehensive inventory but it can be used to begin to understand the scope of the problem.
For example, when Pure Earth visited Maragogipinho, a village in the town of Aratuípe in Brazil, in 2017 as part of the Toxic Sites Identification Program (TSIP), the team found lead concentrations in the soil as high as 44,500 ppm (the EPA level for concern is 400 ppm for residential soil). A pilot survey by a team from the Laboratory of Toxicology (LabTox) of the Federal University of Bahia had found that men in the village had an average blood lead level of around 20 µg/dL, with some individuals measuring as high as 71 µg/dL (while there is no safe level for lead in blood, the US EPA lists 5 µg/dL as the level of concern). The source of this lead pollution was the lead-based glaze used in the local pottery industry. Pure Earth used our knowledge of this problem to work with Maragogipinho to train local potters and families about the health effects of and alternatives to lead-based glaze used in local pottery.
Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health- Brazil Summary
Pollution is responsible for 7.5% of deaths in Brazil. Learn more about how pollution affects health and the economy in Brazil by reading the Brazil Summary Report, based on the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health.
Read more about our work in Brazil in The Pollution Blog: