EMERGENCY IN NIGERIA
Thank you for responding generously to our call for emergency funds to deal with the massive toxic lead outbreak in Nigeria. Cleanup work is continuing.
Bloomberg recently covered the emergency and cleanup efforts in a detailed piece of reporting:
CNN has produced two short videos highlighting the emergency:
Blacksmith experts have finished cleaning/removing toxic lead from two of the worst contaminated villages -- Dareta and Yargalma in Zamfara state. (Read more in the July newsletter)
- THE LEAD POISONING OUTBREAK IN NIGERIA IS UNPRECEDENTED.
- HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN HAVE DIED, MANY UNDER FIVER YEARS OLD.
- VILLAGES ARE DOTTED WITH FRESH TINY GRAVES - ONE VILLAGE LOST ONE-THIRD OF ITS CHILD POPULATION.
- MANY OTHERS ARE ILL, BLIND, DEAF, UNABLE TO WALK AND TALK.
- MANY MORE AT RISK.
- DEATHS WERE DISCOVERED WHEN OFFICIALS REALIZED THERE WERE VITUALLY NO CHILDREN IN SEVERAL VILLAGES during the country's annual immunization program.
- BLACKSMITH IS DOING EMERGENCY CLEANUP AT THE REQUEST OF THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT, working with the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Doctors Without Borders and local authorities.
Race Against Time
- The rainy season has arrived in Nigeria, making cleanup work more difficult. Rains may make roads to the affected villages impassable and may wash the lead to a wider area.
- The longer the villages remain contaminated, the more deaths will occur.
- We need your help NOW to avert a catastrophe.
Blacksmith In the News
- WATCH VIDEO: CNN reports on Blacksmith's emergency toxic lead cleanup in Nigeria, CNN, June 14, 2010
- Nigeria tries to end "gold rush"after child deaths , Reuters Jun 9th, 2010
- Gold, and lead, bring illness and death in Nigeria, Associated Press, June 10th, 2010
- Lead Poisoning From Mining Kills 163 in Nigeria , Reuters Jun 4th, 2010
- Nigeria Lead Poisoning: "Hundreds" Could Die , BBC Jun 7th, 2010
- 163 people die from lead poisoning in northern Nigerian state , Irish Times Jun 8th, 2010
Background: Search for gold ends in death for hundreds of children
- A recent discovery of a gold deposit in Zamfara State has lead to a ‘gold rush' amongst impoverished farmers in rural Nigeria. Unbeknownst to these communities, the gold ore contains very high concentrations of lead (in some cases 10 percent) - an extremely dangerous neurotoxin for children.
- Women of at least seven villages processed this ore inside their homes and residential compounds with their children underfoot. These artisanal mining operations have spread lead throughout homes putting nearly all of the children at risk for permanent developmental problems and even death.
- Over the past few months, about 160 children have died of lead poisoning. Nigeria reports 355 cases. The fatality rate is 46 percent.
- Villages thought children died of malaria but blood tests revealed that surviving children in the affected areas had extremely high blood lead levels.
- Of 133 children tested, all but three cases had lead levels ABOVE the detection limits of the testing equipment (65 ug/dl).
- Blacksmith has been in Nigeria for the past two weeks evaluating the problem and beginning remediation activities.
- Cleanup is vital -- while children are receiving medical treatment, unless the homes are fully decontaminated and the lead removed from the environment, the risk for continued poisoning and death remains.
- Blacksmith is organizing a systematic decontamination of homes and community areas based on protocols developed and implemented in previous Blacksmith toxic lead cleanups in the developing world. We are mobilizing to train teams of local people to safely and effectively remove the threat of lead.
- Blacksmith's team on the ground is led by Dr. Ian von Lindern of Terragraphics, a member of Blacksmith's Technical Advisory Board and a leading expert in lead remediation.
- In 2008 Blacksmith was called to do emergency cleanup in Senegal when 18 children died of lead poisoning.
- Lead contamination is one of the world's worst pollution problems. We see examples of lead poisoning in almost every city in the developing world.
We need your help to complete cleanup before the rains come in July.
Help us avert a catastrophe. Spread the word.