Solving Pollution Problems, Saving Lives


June 2011


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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 Place

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.


 2010 REPORT


Download Blacksmith's 2010 Pollution Report:  World's Worst Pollution Problems: Top Six Toxic Threats. 




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In This Issue:

Russia: Meeting President Medvedev on Russia's Pollution Crisis

Medvedev meets NGOs, June 8, 2011 Reporting from Moscow in The Pollution Blog, Petr Sharov, Blacksmith's Russia and Central Asia coordinator, describes meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev, along with representatives from 24 other NGOs working in Russia.

The informal outdoor meeting was the first between Medvedev and environmental NGOs, and this, notes Petr, could be "a sign of increased attention of Russia's top authorities to environmental issues."

Russia is reportedly beginning to deal with some 30 million tonnes of accumulated hazardous waste. But the meeting also highlighted causes for worry, as Petr reports.

Philippines: National Summit Produces Five-Year Plan to Prioritize and Clean Polluted Hotspots

DENR Sec. Paje and Blacksmith's Richard Fuller at Health and Pollution Summit in the PhilippinesOn June 15, Blacksmith organized a summit on health and pollution in the Philippines, in partnership with the country's Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Environment Management Bureau (DENR-EMB).

The landmark summit focused on the health effects of pollution, rather than just environment degradation. It brought together government institutions and agencies (including the National Poison Management and Control Center), NGOs (including the World Bank, USAID, UNIDO and Blacksmith) and academics (including the National Academy of Science and Technology) to come up with a five-year plan to consolidate efforts and prioritize work on polluted hotspots in the Philippines, where lives are most at risk.

The priority areas discussed include sites polluted with mercury emissions from artisanal gold mining, toxic lead from the improper recycling of lead-acid batteries, and rivers contaminated with industrial waste.

The summit's five-year plan covers remediation work as well as health monitoring and intervention in priority sites. This effort will later be scaled up and replicated at other polluted places in the country.

A final action plan is expected tp be submitted to DENR Secretary Ramon Paje.


China: Bad Press, Good Press

Blacksmith President Richard Fuller was in Beijing when news broke of another series of lead poisoning outbreaks in China, followed by the Human Rights Watch's scathing report on China's response to its toxic lead crisis.

Having worked on pollution cleanup projects in China over the last decade, Richard sees a different side to the negative press. Read his response to the media coverage in The Pollution Blog.


El Salvador: Contemplating A Nationwide "Superfund" Program 

El Salvador

El Salvador's Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources recently met with Blacksmith to discuss setting up a "Superfund"-type program to prioritize and clean up highly polluted sites across the country using Blacksmith's technical expertise and methods.

Blacksmith first met with the Minister and other government officials last December to discuss cleanup work at one specific site - the Grupo Record lead-acid battery recycling facility, which was abruptly closed down in 2007 because of lead contamination.  This relationship between the government and Blacksmith paved the way for the Ministry's officials to explore the idea of widening the project scope to include cleanup at other hotspots.

"Such support from the highest levels of government is key," says John Keith, Blacksmith's director of operations. "It helps foster a closer relationship between our experts and local officials, workers and residents, and a greater level of trust and success."

The Grupo Record site will be among the first to be tackled when the project begins. Toxic lead remains on the site and in the soil in the community around the plant as a result of past lead dust emissions. While in operation, the plant processed around 30,000 lead-acid batteries a month.


United Nation's Environment Programme Expert 

Richard Fuller, President, Blacksmith InstituteBlacksmith's Richard Fuller was recently featured as a UNEP expert, where he answered questions about life-threatening pollution.  If you missed the session, you can still read his answers here, and check out contributions form other UNEP experts.