We’re wrapping up Earth Month with an organization devoted to solving pollution problems in low and middle-income countries, Pure Earth.
Founded in New York City in 1999, the vision of Pure Earth is “a world where all, especially children, are able to live healthy lives and reach their full potential free from exposure to toxic pollution.”
Some data from their website explains the extent of the problem. Each year, 9 million people die from pollution-related illnesses, and 90% of children with high blood lead levels live in low and middle-income countries. Pure Earth partners with governments, communities and industry leaders to identify and implement solutions that stop toxic exposures, protect health, and restore environments. Their current focus is on lead and mercury because of the detrimental effects those pollutants have on children and pregnant women.
In partnership with UNICEF, Pure Earth released a report that found 1 in 3 children (800 million) are affected by lead poisoning. They are raising awareness of the issue and working to abolish the practices that cause harmful lead exposure, such substandard recycling of lead-acid batteries. They are also screening for lead in products found at markets in 25 countries.
As for mercury, Pure Earth estimates that globally, 19 million people are at risk for exposure to mercury. This can cause damage to the nervous, digestive, and immune systems, as well as the lungs, kidneys, skin, and eyes. Not only is mercury found at high levels in many types of fish, it is also used in small-scale gold mining around the world as a way to separate gold from sediment.
Pure Earth is educating community members about mercury poisoning, teaching miners mercury-free methods, and working with them to close out old mines through reforestation. They are also creating awareness of mercury-free gold and connecting international jewelers to miners using mercury-free methods.
You can see all of the current and previous Pure Earth projects on this interactive map. Since they began, they have completed over 120 cleanup projects in 24 countries, “improving five million lives, including 1 million children under the age of six.”
If you’d like to help Pure Earth solve pollution, save lives and protect the planet you can join a fundraising event or make a donation – cash or cryptocurrency! You can also help them get the word out by amplifying their message on social media. Like the Pure Earth Facebook page and follow them on Twitter@PureEarthNow and Instagram @pureearthnow