A Global Killer, A Solvable Problem
The Blacksmith Institute Pollution blog puts the spotlight on one of the biggest, yet most underreported, global problems – toxic pollution. Over 100 million people are at risk in some of the world’s worst polluted places. Read about pollution issues, solutions, innovations, stories from the field and how Blacksmith is working to bring an end to pollution in our lifetime. The countdown to a clean world has begun. Richard Fuller, Blacksmith’s founder, and Magdalene Sim, Blacksmith’s director of communications, will be your guide. Learn more at www.blacksmithinstitute.org
Life-threatening toxic pollution is one of the biggest global killers, especially of women and children. Moreover, the effects of pollution are usually felt far beyond its source. The good news is that it is a problem that can be solved. Solutions already exist. After all, toxic pollution has already been mostly eliminated in the industrialized world. Now Blacksmith is fighting to do the same in developing countries. Currently, Blacksmith has 40 cleanup projects in 19 countries and counting.
Blacksmith’s Strategy – Hazards of Pollution
Industrial wastes, air emissions, and legacy pollution from old industry affect billions of people around the world. Women and children are especially at risk. Tens of thousands of people are poisoned and killed each year. Others have reduced neurological development, damaged immune systems, and long-term health problems. The World Heath Organization, in conjunction with the World Bank, estimates that 20 percent of deaths in the developing world are directly attributed to environmental factors from pollution.
Focus on Highly Polluted Places
The priority of Blacksmith is to work in locations throughout the developing world where human health is most affected by pollution. Our programs involve a multi-step process of:
- Identifying polluted places in the developing world, with nominations received from members of the international community and through the internet;
- Assessing the health risks at those locations by:
- Reviewing nominations with a Technical Advisory Board of leading international specialists on a rolling monthly basis
- Visiting candidate sites with likely high health risk implication, and conducting an Initial Site Assessment, a triage protocol that validates likely health implications, and enables the design of an intervention.
- Designing and implementing a remediation strategy tailored to the specifics of the site in question, using local champions to implement the project in a cooperative fashion.
We believe that problems are only solved when there is someone locally to guide the work and champion the solution. That person might be a passionate government official, the leader of a community-based organization, a local council member, or a local resident.
Blacksmith supports its local partners with more than just grants. We provide assistance in other ways so that our partners can initiate solutions to their pollution problems in the most cost effective and direct manner. Blacksmith provides:
- Technical Research: We bring the necessary resources to research a pollution problem and its proposed solutions thoroughly. We partner with scientific and technical groups in the US (and also in Europe) that have demonstrated expertise in areas relevant to pollution remediation.
- Strategic Assistance: We provide help with project planning and implementation planning, using our experience in similar projects to enable local champions to describe a credible methodology for site remediation, and move forward with it.
- Networking Capabilities: We develop collaborative networking opportunities for our partners, linking them to the most appropriate resources to meet their needs, including organizations such as the World Bank.
- Financial Support: Through the generosity of our personal and institutional funders, we provide both seed money and continuing support to projects, offering long-term core support, whenever possible, to projects that have demonstrated clear successes (or the potential for success) in the pollution remediation field.