Solving Pollution Problems, Saving Lives


September 2010


Toxic pollution poisons, cripples and kills over 100 million people, in particular children, in low and middle income countries. Yet this global health crisis remains largely unnoticed. 

Blacksmith Institute works in some of the world's worst polluted places to solve pollution problems and clean up contaminated sites in order to save lives. Blacksmith is currently engaged in over 40 projects in 19 countries.

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Health and Pollution Fund

Global Inventory Project - Database of the World's Worst Pollluted Places

Lead Poisoning and Car Batteries

Artisanal Gold Mining (Mercury Poisoning)

World's Worst Polluted Places Reports




"This is a finite problem. There are a finite number of toxic hotspots around the world. We just have to find them and clean them. We can end life-threatening pollution in our lifetime."

-- Richard Fuller, founder, Blacksmith Institute.

Life-threatening pollution has already been eliminated in many wealthier nations.  Now Blacksmith is leading the fight to end it in low and middle income countries.

  • Identify: Blacksmith is building the world's first comprehensive global inventory of polluted sites, where lives are at risk. Once identified, these hotspots will be ranked in order of priority for cleanup. Blacksmith investigators are currently crisscrossing the globe to assess some 3000 sites in more than 60 countries.
  • Implement: Blacksmith is working to create the Health and Pollution Fund - a proposed $500 million public health fund to support the cleanup of the world's worst polluted places identified by the global inventory project.


 2009 REPORT


Download the 2009 Blacksmith report:  World's Worst Polluted Places: 12 Cases of Cleanup and Success. Read 12 pinpricks of light and other news reports.




Nominate a Polluted Site


Pollution Slowly Emerging As a Global Issue

Despite its toll, life-threatening pollution has remained a largely ignored killer lurking in plain sight in many low and middle income countries.  But signs are emerging that things may be changing.  Recently, the U.S. EPA announced new priorities targeting international pollution, recognizing it as a global, not isolated, threat. This is encouraging news.

After a decade of conducting cleanup in some of the world's worst polluted places, we hope that world attention to the global pollution crisis will make it easier to rally the resources we need to finally eliminate pollution as a threat...possibly in our lifetime.

After all, unlike many environmental problems, pollution can be solved with proven techniques that have been used in wealthier, industrialized nations. The solution is concrete. All that is required is the attention of world opinion and money.  The EPA's move takes us one step closer to that goal.

-- Richard Fuller, President, Blacksmith Institute

In This Issue:

PHILIPPINES: River Cleanup Award

GHANA:  "Sodom and Gomorrah" E-wasteland

Reminder: Charity Event to Raise Awareness about Global Killer, Fund Cleanup

PHILIPPINES: Blacksmith Receives Award for River Cleanup

Philippine AwardBlacksmith Institute was recently recognized by the Philippine government for its long-standing efforts to clean up the Meycauayan-Marilao-Obando (MMO) river system, widely considered to be one of the dirtiest bodies of water in the world.

"This award reminds me that our work is making a difference and an impact on all the communities that depend on the river, and that is most gratifying," says Blacksmith Philippine coordinator Jenny Sunga-Amparo, who received the award at the Regional Industrial Ecowatch Recognition Night.

In partnership with the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Blacksmith has been working to control pollution from small-scale industries, including gold smelting operations and tanneries, which regularly dump untreated industrial waste into the river. At least 250,000 people in Bulacan and nearby communities depend on this river system for transport and aquaculture.

 GHANA:  Images of "Sodom and Gomorrah" E-Wasteland

Blacksmith expert Jack Caravanos with e-waste at the Agbogbloshie market in GhanaLocals call the Agbogbloshie market in Ghana "Sodom and Gomorrah."  It is one of the biggest e-waste dumps in the world and the site of a pending Blacksmith project, recently featured in a New York Times photo essay.

Blacksmith Technical Advisory Board member Dr. Jack Caravanos (left) was recently in Ghana to conduct assessments  ahead of the Blacksmith intervention slated for fall.  Read his personal account and watch a video here.

While legislation to deal with e-waste dumping might take years, there are immediate steps that can be taken to save lives being poisoned by e-waste.

For example, providing recyclers with simple tools like wire strippers allows them to extract valuable components without burning, thereby reducing the amount of dangerous toxic fumes released.  E-waste sites can also be remediated to remove toxins from the ground, water and air.  In Ghana, Blacksmith is working with the Ghana Health Service to organize e-waste workers, improve e-waste processing techniques, and offer occupational health interventions to create both a sustainable source of social protection and increased economic benefits.

Unfortunately, images like these are not limited to Ghana. E-wastelands have cropped up to threaten poor and marginalized populations around the world.

[Photo: Blacksmith expert Dr. Jack Caravanos sits on a pile of e-waste dumped at Agbogbloshie from around the world. Toxic fumes from burning e-waste can be seen in the background. Credit:  Blacksmith Institute]

Tee off for a Good Cause: Blacksmith's Annual Golf Fundraiser

Some of the world's worst polluted places are found in low and middle income countries, where families are poisoned by pollution day in and day out. Blacksmith's annual golf event raises thousands of dollars to fund the cleanup of contaminated homes, schools, playgrounds and other areas in these toxic communities. The fundraiser will take place this year on Mon., Sept.  27 at The Tuxedo Club in Tuxedo, New York.  Reserve your spot on the green or sign up as a sponsor today.