Mexican potter Don Francisco has pledged to go lead-free to protect his son.
Up to 20% of Mexicans are poisoned by the pottery they use for daily meals at home and in restaurants across the country. Lead in traditional pottery glaze mixes with acidic foods–like coffee, chili peppers, tomatoes and lemons–and quickly enters bodies’ digestive systems and bloodstreams.
Since 2008, Pure Earth has been working with local authorities in Mexico to address the issue of lead in pottery. Pure Earth’s Barro Aprobado project is working to raise awareness about the dangers of leaded pottery, and to promote the use and production of lead-free pottery.
In Mexico, lead is still present in a wide array of everyday items, such as imported cosmetics, commercial candies, certain household paints, and car and electronic batteries, among others. Active and abandoned mines, metallurgy, and the lead-acid battery recycling industry are also major sources of lead-acid exposure. However, lead-oxide glaze that is traditionally used in pottery has been identified as the main cause of chronic poisoning nationwide.
Fortunately, there are solutions to this challenge. Eliminating sources of lead exposure is not only feasible, but also affordable. Moreover, it can generate economic benefits. The WHO confirms that: “The economic benefits of successful interventions against lead poisoning have also proven to be enormous. These benefits far outweigh the costs of creating a national screening program, surveillance, and primary prevention of lead poisoning.”
Since this challenge is primarily linked with the pottery sector, specific interventions that facilitate artisans’ transition to lead-free glazes, while at the same time monitor the blood lead levels of children, will produce significant benefits for both the public health and the economic growth of Mexico.
Read the full report (in Spanish) here.
Watch video of report briefing here.
Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health- Mexico Summary
Pollution is responsible for 7.6% of deaths in Mexico. Learn more about how pollution affects health and the economy in Mexico by reading the Mexico Summary Report, based on the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health.
Read more about our work in Mexico on our Pollution Blog:
- Helping Communities Hard Hit by Covid (May 2020)
- Lead Poisoning Affects over 1 Million Children in Mexico; Pottery is the Main Cause (Dec 2019)
- Lead Poisoning in Newborns: The Story Of Baby X in Mexico (May 2019)
- (Photo Essay) Mexico: Lead Exposure From Traditional Pottery (Dec 2015)
- Fact Sheet: Mexico’s 500 Year-Old Problem (2014)
- From Mexico to Brazil: Sharing Solutions to a Pollution Problem (2018)
- Barro Aprobado in New York— Reaching a Wider Market (2018)
- 960 Pieces of Lead-Free Pottery (2015)
- Alerting Local Researchers to Mexico’s National Lead Problem (2015)
- A Tale of Three Cleanups (2015)
- Want Lead-Free Food? Visit the first “Barro Aprobado” Restaurant in Mexico (2014)
- In the news: Getting Lead Out of Mexican Pots and Kids (Huffpost, 2014)
In The News
- They seek to ignite a national culture of pottery use, Diario de Mexico Jul 22nd, 2021
- El contaminante que persiste en las ciudades más de 20 años después de su prohibición (y su impacto devastador en los niños), BBC Mundo Jul 19th, 2021
- ¡Por fin hay barro libre de plomo en México!, Food and Wine May 27th, 2021