SPECIAL ALERT: EMERGENCY IN NIGERIA
"There have been more deaths from lead poisoning here than in the whole world combined in the last 40 years (at these types of mining and lead processing sites)."
(Photo: Graves of children; Associated Press)
There is an unprecedented lead poisoning crisis unfolding in Nigeria right now. At the request of the Nigerian authorities, Blacksmith has been on the ground for the past two weeks doing assessments and leading urgent emergency cleanup.
Blacksmith is working with the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Doctors Without Borders, and local authorities to avert a catastrophe.
The toll so far:
CNN REPORTS ON BLACKSMITH'S LIFE-OR-DEATH RACE AGAINST TIME
Blacksmith experts are on the ground rushing to do urgent cleanup before the rains arrive in July, making roads impassable and spreading the toxic pollutant.
Cleanup crews are currently going from house to house, removing toxic lead. This is key because surviving children cannot be treated unless they have safe homes to return to.
Blacksmith is remediating 120 compounds in two villages, and will also deal with piles of toxic waste. Five more villages need urgent attention but funds are unavailable. Time is running out.
Child graves reveal lead poison tragedy - 70 children lost from one village alone, CNN, June 10
WALL STREET JOURNAL UPDATES SITUATION IN NIGERIA
"Nigerian and international officials are expanding testing for lead exposure to at least four more villages and say contamination could have spread further because gold processing is widespread in the area." -- WSJ, June 17.
SEARCH FOR GOLD ENDS IN DEATH - REPORTS ON THE TRAGIC TOLL AND ITS CAUSE
"The discovery of a gold deposit triggered a "gold rush" among impoverished farmers who dug up rocks by hand, unaware that the ore contained dangerously high concentrations of lead." -- Reuters.
"This is a great source of livelihood for them and it is not uncommon in these sorts of circumstances that people will deny that their activities are the issue. There has to be a campaign of education and it has to include training so they don't loose the livelihood but can do it in a way that is safe for their children," -- Richard Fuller, President, Blacksmith Institute, speaking to Reuters.
LISTEN TO BLACKSMITH INTERVIEW ON PRI'S "THE WORLD"
"Pretty much everyone that has been tested... has tested with blood levels that are above the range of the equipment that we send out there.... Some people will be permanently damaged.... The most imperative thing to do right now is the emergency response of cleaning up these houses so that when the children return back to these compounds, there is no more ongoing exposure." -- Richard Fuller, President, Blacksmith Institute.
LEARN MORE ABOUT LEAD POISONING
Lead poisoning is one of the world's worst pollution problems. It can be found in almost every city in the developing world. Lead contamination may be cuased by artisanal gold mining, the improper recycling of used car batteries, or other activities.
Blacksmith Paper: The Effects of Lead on Maternal and Child Health
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