How to Build the World’s First Database of Polluted Sites

It’s been a good start to the year for us on the funding side. We just received confirmation that we will be getting a $900,000 infusion to complete work on our Global Inventory Project, which is about one-third done (see snapshot in my December 23 post). This new grant will allow us to hire more investigators and pay for equipment, travel and training for them.  It’s a big job — building the Global Inventory – the world’s first comprehensive database of polluted sites with human health impact.  Here is a behind-the-scenes look at what the grant is supporting/what our investigators are doing on the ground in over 60 countries:

Over the past year, we have been training teams of investigators around the world for the Global Inventory Project. These local teams are then dispatched to assess and collect data on polluted sites in their region using the Initial Site Assessment (ISA) protocol and other resources developed by Blacksmith. This ISA protocol involves a visit to the site and a review of key technical and historical information. Our investigators review and collect as much information as possible from all stakeholders, including local NGO’s, businesses, technical agencies, and governments. Samples are taken, where credible test results are not already available, and information collected is related to population and pollutant pathway.  This data is then used to calculate a ranking for the site on the Blacksmith Index, which assigns a number from 1 to 6, with the latter indicating the highest risk to human health from pollution. All site information is inputted into an online database and reviewed by a team of technical experts. Other experts conduct field visits for quality assurance purposes.

Only through this painstaking process will we be able to paint a first clear picture of the scope of life-threatening pollution. You really can’t solve a problem until you know its extent. By next year, our Global Inventory Project will give us just that.

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