MEET OUR TEAM
LARAH ORTEGA IBAÑEZ Country Director Pure Earth Philippines
3rd Floor Vega Center, Lopez Avenue, Los Baños, Laguna 4031, Philippines
In 2017, the Philippines was among the top three growth performers in the Southeast Asia region. However, there are also environmental concerns besetting the country as it pursues further economic development. Despite these challenges, the Philippine Development Plan highlights that “individuals and communities will be made more resilient by reducing their exposure to risks, mitigating the impact of risks, and accelerating recovery when the risk materializes.” Pure Earth’s work in the Philippines is very much aligned with this. Since 2008, Pure Earth has been focused on a combination of pollution identification and abatement in order to protect vulnerable populations.
The Toxic Sites Identification Program (TSIP) is Pure Earth’s flagship program. Pure Earth Philippines has entered around 250 sites in the database. These are resulting from targeted and investigative assessments. From the targeted assessments, Pure Earth was able to conduct an exposure mitigation work in a lead contaminated site, protecting families especially children otherwise threatened by lead. From the more recent investigative site assessments, Pure Earth has succeeded in blanketing cities testing the grounds for heavy metal contamination, the resulting data of which are now being integrated in local government policies and programs i.e. land use and development, disaster risk reduction and management, climate change mitigation and adaptation, environmental codes and waste management plans.
In addition to TSIP, Pure Earth Philippines’ programming includes a mix of environmental health projects and initiatives. These include the following: forming a water quality management area board; sampling and analyzing river water, sediment, and biota for heavy metals; pilot testing pollution control technologies for tannery, gold smelting and fish farming industries; developing a river water and sediment quality monitoring database; spearheading volunteer activities like river and coastal clean ups, plogging, tree planting in watersheds, and mangrove nursery establishment; conducting information, education and communication (IEC) campaigns in schools, trainings for government stakeholders in the areas of strategic planning, policy development, environmental law enforcement, assessing used lead acid battery (ULAB) recycling facilities, initial site assessment of toxic sites, water quality monitoring, GIS mapping, and database utilization; blood lead level testing; and conducting medical surveillance among others. Pure Earth has also presented findings at high level meetings, in an attempt to get pollution included in national priorities. The latest effort towards this end was the Health and Pollution Action Planning (HPAP) in the country, the resulting plan being a supplement to the already existing Philippines National Environmental Action Plan (NEHAP).
Given these significant strides, Pure Earth Philippines continues to trailblaze the fight against life-threatening pollution. In 2021, it is embarking on the first ever inclusion of blood lead level (BLL) testing in the National Nutrition Survey. This effort is just the beginning and thus, Pure Earth continues to seek and welcome partners with the aim of understanding the status of lead poisoning in children in the country in order to make headways into exposure source identification and interventions development and implementation across concerned sectors.
Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health- Philippines Summary
Pollution is responsible for 16.4% of deaths in the Philippines. Learn more about how pollution affects health and the economy in the Philippines by reading the Philippines Summary Report, based on the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health.
Institute of Health Metrics – Philippines Data
About 50%, or 20 million out of 40 million, of Filipino children are estimated to be at risk of lead poisoning. This data set can be accessed at at http://www.healthdata.org/philippines. This has an extraordinary impact on the health and future potential of the country. Blood Lead Levels (BLLs) above 5 microgram per deciliter are above standard and are already recommended for intervention by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control, (CDC). Based on Pure Earth’s country assessment, various local BLL studies in children from 1995 to 2017 show a range of 5.39 to 67.6 ug/dL.
Country and Project Reports
- Philippines Country Report 2018
- Reducing Environmental and Health Risks from Lead Contamination Reports 2017
- Protecting Livelihoods, Human and Ecosystem Health in the Philippines 2017
- Urban Revitalization Through Mitigating Toxic Wastes Report 2016
- Marilao Industrial Waste Contamination Report
- Remediation of Clark and Subic Bay Report
- Projects in Progress
- Completed Projects
- Human and Ecosystem Health in MMORS
- Comprehensive Assessment—Iloilo City and Tagbilaran City
- Health and Pollution Action Plan
- Lead Smelter Cleanup in Pampanga
- Lead Smelter Cleanup in Pampanga
- Cebu City Assessment—Sitio Tinga Lead Smelting Village
- Marilao – Industrial Waste Contamination
- Reducing Risks From Lead Contamination
- Marilao Used Lead-Acid Battery Recycling
- Mt. Diwalwal – Cyanide in Artisanal Gold Mining Mercury
- Meycauayan Tannery Center
- Remediation of Clark and Subic Bay
- Urban Revitalization Through Mitigating Toxic Wastes
- TSIP Trainings: TSIP Training Los Baños
Read more about our work in the Philippines in The Pollution Blog:
- Helping Communities Hard Hit by Covid (May 2020)
- Plogging in the Philippines: HSBC and Pure Earth Raise Awareness About Pollution (August 2019)
- HSBC Volunteers Take Action Against River Pollution in the Philippines (Oct 2018)
- Keeping Two-Year-Old Dexter and His Friends Safe From Lead Poisoning in Pampanga (Aug 2018)
- Mapping Pollution in the Philippines (Aug 2018)
- Notes from the Field: A Week in the Life of a Pure Earth Staffer in the Philippines (May 2017)