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Pure Earth Receives $8 Million to Expand Work to Solve the Global Lead Poisoning Crisis

Press release

New York, New York

October 19, 2021

With last year’s revelation in The Toxic Truth report that 800 million children are lead poisoned and over 90% of that burden falls on children in mid- and low-income countries, Pure Earth has been working with partners to scale up actions and commitments to stem this crisis.

We are pleased to announce that GiveWell recommended an incubation grant of $8 million to Pure Earth to expand work on addressing lead poisoning. The grant, Support for Reducing Lead Exposure in Low- and Middle-Income Countries, is funded by Open Philanthropy, Effective Altruism Funds Global Health and Development Fund, and an anonymous donor.

The grant will also be part of the Protecting Every Child’s Potential (PECP) initiative, founded in 2020 by Pure Earth, Clarios Foundation and UNICEF to prevent children’s exposure to lead.  “We designed PECP for growth,” explains Drew McCartor, Pure Earth Vice President of Strategy and Partnerships, “…and we are delighted that the resources under PECP have increased by 50% in the first year, and that membership continues to grow.”

In addition to the new funding, two organizations have joined the PECP initiative—Vital Strategies and the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP). Both of these organizations are current implementation partners under PECP grants, and bring critical expertise, capacities, and networks.

The grant will expand Pure Earth’s work combatting lead poisoning over the next three years to:

  • Identify likely sources of lead exposure in 25 low- and middle-income countries;
  • Implement interventions to reduce lead exposure from key sources;
  • Conduct baseline and endline analyses of blood lead levels to evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions.

A portion of the grant will focus on reducing lead exposure from lead-adulterated spices.  The grant also funds a novel program to research sources of lead exposure across 25 countries through rapid market screenings of household goods and foods. Following a protocol developed in collaboration with Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment, local investigators will purchase a wide range of consumer goods—including spices, cookware and toys—test for lead, and create country summary reports documenting findings and conclusions.

The results of these analyses will be made publicly available to help prioritize and target policy and program actions on lead exposure to specific geographies, populations, markets and sources.

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to investigate and address the full range of lead exposure sources, whether it be adulterated spices, cookware, cosmetics, toys or paint,” says Rich Fuller, Pure Earth CEO.  “The results of the rapid market assessments will help fill a critical gap in our understanding, and enable us to develop effective interventions to protect future generations from lead poisoning.”

About Pure Earth:

Pure Earth partners with governments, communities and industry leaders to identify and implement solutions that stop toxic exposures, protect health, and restore environments.

We prioritize actions to protect the developing brains and bodies of children and pregnant women living in toxic hot spots. We work to stop the multigenerational cycle of poisoning that is endemic in many low and middle-income countries.

Our teams work alongside community members and governments, building their capacity to clean up disease-causing toxic pollution in soil, water and air. Interventions to mitigate these toxic exposures while protecting livelihoods have proven to be manageable, cost-effective, and feasible. This field work, combined with our groundbreaking research and advocacy, is elevating pollution control and prevention to a local and global priority.

Pure Earth has addressed toxic pollution in over 120 project locations through assessment, remediation, risk mitigation, awareness raising and more. These projects have impacted approximately 5 million people—20% of those being children under six. Families in many of these communities will live longer, have less intellectual impairment, cancer and other diseases.

About Protecting Every Child’s Potential:

Pure Earth, Clarios Foundation, and UNICEF have founded Protecting Every Child’s Potential (PECP) initiative to end children’s exposure to lead. It is a platform that will grow with new partners to collectively mobilize international action to prevent children’s lead exposure from unsound lead-acid battery manufacturing and recycling, and other sources.

Media inquiries, contact Angela Bernhardt, [email protected], +1(212) 870-3490