Solving Pollution Problems, Saving Lives


January 2012


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Blacksmith Institute works in some of the world's worst polluted places to solve pollution problems and clean up contaminated sites in order to save lives. Blacksmith is currently engaged in over 40 projects in 19 countries.


Blacksmith Institute





Health and Pollution Fund

Global Inventory Project - Database of Polluted Places


World's Worst Pollution Problems




"This is a finite problem. There are a finite number of toxic hotspots around the world. We just have to find them and clean them. We can end life-threatening pollution in our lifetime."

Richard Fuller, founder, Blacksmith Institute.

Life-threatening pollution has already been eliminated in many wealthier nations.  Now Blacksmith is leading the fight to end it in low and middle income countries.

  • Identify: Blacksmith is building the world's first comprehensive global inventory of polluted sites, where lives are at risk. Once identified, these hotspots will be ranked in order of priority for cleanup. Blacksmith investigators are crisscrossing the globe and have already identified 2100 polluted sites in more than 40 countries.
  • Implement: Blacksmith is working to create the Health and Pollution Fund - a proposed $500 million public health fund to support the cleanup of the world's worst polluted places identified by the global inventory project.




The World's Worst Toxic Pollution Problems Report 2011

Download Blacksmith's 2011 Pollution Report:  World's Worst Pollution Problems




Nominate a Polluted Site



In this Issue: 

Sodom and Gomorrah E-Wasteland, Jan. 19

On Christmas day, 6.8 million Android and iOS devices were activated. This means that millions of old phones were probably discarded along with large numbers of TVs, computers and other gadgets to make way for newer models. Because of unregulated dumping, much of this toxic e-waste ends up in places like Ghana's notorious Agbogbloshie market, which locals call Sodom and Gomorrah.

Blacksmith's first pollution talk of the year will look at what life is like in Ghana's Sodom and Gomorrah, and offer a peek at what will be done when Blacksmith heads back to the e-wasteland this spring.

Sodom Gomorrah E-Wasteland, Jan 19, 6 p.m., NYC.  FREE. RSVP required.   

See photos of "Sodom and Gomorrah" and read a first-hand account in The Pollution blog.

Blacksmith and World Bank Look After "Orphaned" Sites

Blacksmith has received a US$700,000 grant from the World Bank to take care of abandoned or forgotten "orphaned" sites contaminated by legacy pollution left over from past industrial activity.

"Legacy polluted sites can be found in every low-income country but the widespread problem is usually ignored party because the source of the pollution is gone," says Blacksmith President Richard Fuller.  "Finding and stopping pollution is the first line of action for many governments and organizations. With that gone, the problem of lingering contamination simply falls through the cracks."

See examples of legacy polluted sites.

Blacksmith Adds Experts in China

Blacksmith is expanding its presence in China with the formation of a new Technical Advisory Board (TAB) composed chiefly of Chinese experts in pollution and environmental engineering.

The China TAB will support Blacksmith's work on China's master plan for pollution prevention and remediation, which is expected to put in place a heavy metals pollution control system by 2015. 

"This group of local advisers gives us a greater pool of experts to call on in-country as we work on this massive national five-year cleanup plan," says John Keith, Blacksmith's director of operations. "They will be able to help us navigate the local system, get things done faster, and deepen our ties for this and future projects."

The China TAB will meet in Beijing next month to discuss remediation work at the Guixi smelter, the largest copper factory in China; and at the closed chromate factory in Changsha. 

The China TAB is the first international offshoot of Blacksmith's highly regarded US-based TAB. Plans are underway to form other branches to support Blacksmith's global work.

"Sensationalist" Claim in 2011 Report

A leather industry group criticized Blacksmith's listing of tannery operations at #5 in the 2011 report on the world's worst toxic pollution problems, calling the report's conclusions "sensationalist." 

Read Blacksmith's response in Leather International magazine, and find out why even non-toxic chemicals can still do damage.

Scientific America and World's Worst Polluted

Watch a slideshow of the top ten world's worst toxic pollution problems at: Scientific American or Huffington Post

The 2011 report was also notable because it debunked a popularly held belief about multinational corporations and pollution.

The report also spotlighted the high price of gold, literally and figuratively.  Driven by the global rise in the price of the precious metal, artisanal gold mining landed at the #1 on the list. 

Richard Fuller

[Watch: Richard Fuller, Blacksmith's President on Business News Network talking about the impact of artisanal gold mining]

Published since 2006, Blacksmith's annual pollution reports have raised awareness about the global scope of toxic pollution, and in some cases, have compelled cleanup work at polluted hotspots.

The latest report's release generated interest around the world with coverage in Chinese, German and other publications.  Read a roundup of the news coverage in the IPS wire and other media here.