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Pure Earth, formerly known as the Blacksmith Institute, is a New York City-based international not-for-profit organization founded in 1999 that works to identify, clean up, and solve pollution problems in low- and middle-income countries, where high concentrations of toxic pollution have devastating health impacts, especially on children. These communities suffer disproportionately from pollution-related diseases. Pure Earth remains the only significant organization of its kind working to solve pollution on a global scale.
Pure Earth is known for leading the fight against global toxic pollution that affects human health with its various efforts, including the World's Worst Pollution Problems reports; the Toxic Sites Identification Program, the Pure Earth database of polluted sites, the Blacksmith Index (developed to assess polluted sites), the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution, the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, the Tell Your Pollution Story project with National Geographic, the Pollution Blog, the Journal of Health and Pollution, and more.
Pure Earth's work focuses on multiple health issues, with two significant programs: reducing lead poisoning from the recycling of used lead-acid (car) batteries and from the use of leaded pottery; and reducing mercury poisoning from artisanal gold mining.
Pollution: Largest Environmental Cause of Death In The World Today
In 2017, Pure Earth President Richard Fuller and Dr. Philip Landrigan, serving as co-chairs of the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, issued an open letter, and presided over the release of the landmark report from the Commission, which confirmed that pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death in the world today—causing 3x more deaths than HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria combined, and 15x more deaths than wars and all forms of violence.
The report's findings made headlines around the world. The Washington Post's editorial concluded that "The Lancet study should remind leaders in the United States and elsewhere that, though there are costs associated with restricting pollution, countries also incur costs by failing to do so." Fareed Zakaria issued a passionate commentary about pollution's deadly global impact.
The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health is an initiative of The Lancet, the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (for which Pure Earth serves as Secretariat), and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, with additional coordination and input from United Nations Environment, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the World Bank.
Toxic Sites Identification Program
Pure Earth's Toxic Site Identification Program (TSIP) works to identify and screen contaminated sites in low- and middle-income countries where public health is at risk. Pure Earth has trained more than 400 toxic sites investigators around the world to find, map and assess polluted sites that pose health risks in their communities. To date, TSIP investigators have identified more than 3,100 sites in over 50 countries. These sites alone represent a potential health risk to more than 80 million poor people.
The data collected by TSIP investigators is entered into Pure Earth's database of polluted sites, the largest database of its kind. This information is made accessible to governments so that they can formulate plans to prioritize action on pollution that poses the most risk to populations.
The public can view the data at pollution.org
The Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP)
In July 2012, Pure Earth convened a third meeting of world leaders and experts on pollution at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center in Italy. The Global Alliance on Health and Pollution was formed that year by Pure Earth, the World Bank, UNEP, UNDP, UNIDO, Asian Development Bank, the European Commission, Ministries of Environment and Health of many low- and middle-income countries to address pollution and health at scale. Blacksmith serves as Secretariat for the GAHP. Blacksmith began coordinating an international effort to create a global alliance in 2008. The effort was formerly called the Health and Pollution Fund.
The Journal Of Health and Pollution
Published by Pure Earth, the Journal of Health and Pollution (JH&P) is a quarterly on-line journal of peer reviewed research and news. JH&P is grant funded by the World Bank and the European Union. There are no charges to readers or authors. JH&P aims to facilitate discussion of toxic pollution, impacts to human health and strategies for site remediation. The journal focuses on work by researchers from or about under-represented low- and middle-income countries.
- Mexico: Barro Aprobado - Research shows nearly half the children in Mexico are impacted by lead poisoning from traditional pottery glazed with lead that is used in many homes and restaurants in Mexico. The Barro Aprobado project is raising public awareness about the dangers of leaded pottery, and promoting the use and production of lead-free pottery.
- Azerbaijan: Cleanup of infamous pesticide site in Salyan.
- Zambia: Lead remediation in Kabwe, sometimes called the world's most toxic town.
- Mongolia: Training artisanal miners to go mercury free. Over 1000 miners have been trained to date.
- Ukraine – Cleanup of former Soviet arms site, filled with highly toxin chemicals and explosives, as chronicled in Bloomberg Businessweek 
- Nigeria: In 2011, Pure Earth received a Green Star Award for emergency work during the Nigeria lead poisoning crisis in Zamfara .
- Armenia: Cleanup of 10th century historical site.
2015 saw the release of the book The Brown Agenda.
Pure Earth was founded as the Blacksmith Institute in 1999.
In 2014, Blacksmith launched a new initiative – Blacksmith Institute for a Pure Earth – with English actor Dev Patel as celebrity ambassador. Patel worked closely with Blacksmith to suggest the new name, and will help support efforts to raise awareness about toxic pollution, an issue he says he first grew aware of after filming in India. Blacksmith will slowly transition to a new name – Pure Earth – with the aim of broadening awareness of global toxic pollution issues to the general public.
World's Worst Polluted Places Reports
For over a decade, Pure Earth's World’s Worst Pollution Problems reports identified and drew attention to the worst, and most dangerously polluted places on the planet, while documenting and quantifying the startling health and environmental impacts of this neglected problem. The series of reports succeeded in raising global awareness about the extent and impacts of toxic pollution in low- and middle-income countries. All reports are archived at http://worstpolluted.org
2016 report: The Toxics Beneath Our Feet (Top Polluting Industries)
- Used Lead Acid Battery (ULAB) Recycling
- Mining and Ore Processing
- Lead Smelters
- Artisanal Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM)
- Industrial Dumpsites
- Industrial Estates
- Chemical Manufacturing
- Product Manufacturing
- Dye Industry
2015 report: Top Six Toxic Threats
2014 report: Top Ten Countries Turning The Corner on Toxic Pollution
(Not ranked, listed by region.)
- Ghana, Agbogbloshie
- Senegal, Thiaroye Sur Mer
- Uruguay, Montevideo
- Mexico, Mexico City
- Indonesia, Cinangka
- Philippines, Marilao, Meycauayan and Obando River System
- Vietnam, Dong Mai
- Former Soviet Union
- Kyrgyzstan, Mailuu-Suu
- Also China, India and Madagascar
2013 report: Top Ten Toxic Threats in 2013: Cleanup, Progress, and Ongoing Challenges
The World's Worst Polluted Places in 2013 (unranked):
- Agbogbloshie, Ghana
- Chernobyl*, Ukraine
- Citarum River, Indonesia
- Dzerzhinsk, Russia*
- Hazaribagh Thana, Bangladesh
- Kabwe*, Zambia
- Kalimantan, Indonesia
- Matanza River, Argentina
- Niger River Delta, Nigeria
- Norilsk*, Russia
(*included in the original 2006 or 2007 lists)
2012 report: The Top Ten Sources by Global Burden of Disease
- Battery recycling
- Lead smelting
- Mining and Ore processing
- Industrial/Municipal Dumpsites
- Industrial estates
- Artisanal Gold mining
- Product manufacturing
- Chemical manufacturing
- Dye industry
2011 report: The Top Ten of the Toxic Twenty
Top Ten Worst Toxic Pollution Problems:
- Artisanal Gold Mining – Mercury
- Industrial Estates – Lead
- Agricultural Production- Pesticides
- Lead Smelting – Lead
- Tannery Operation – Chromium
- Mining and Ore Processing – Mercury
- Mining and Ore Processing – Lead
- Lead-Acid Battery Recycling – Lead
- Naturally Occurring Arsenic in Ground Water – Arsenic
- Pesticide Manufacturing and Storage – Pesticide
2010 report: Top Six Toxic Threats
The report identifies and quantifies the impacts of the most damaging toxic pollutants. The Top Six Toxic Threats are:
2009 report: 12 Cases of Cleanup and Success
- Improving indoor air – Accra, Ghana
- Preventing mining pollution – Candelaria, Chile
- Lowering radioactivity – Chernobyl, Ukraine
- Cleaning urban air – Delhi, India
- Removing lead – Haina, Dominican Republic
- Recapturing mercury – Kalimantan, Indonesia
- Reducing lead – Rudnaya Pristan, Russia
- Removing DDT – Old Korogwe, Tanzania
- Restoring a waterway – Shanghai, China
- Removing arsenic – West Bengal, India
- Phasing out leaded gasoline – Worldwide
- Ending chemical weapons – Worldwide
2008 report: Top Ten World's Worst Pollution Problems
- Artisanal Gold Mining
- Contaminated Surface Water
- Indoor Air Pollution
- Industrial Mining Activities
- Groundwater Contamination
- Metals Smelting and Processing
- Radioactive Waste and Uranium Mining
- Untreated Sewage
- Urban Air Quality
- Used Lead Acid Battery Recycling
2006 and 2007 reports: Top Ten World's Worst Polluted Places
As of September 2007, the Institute lists the following as the world's ten most polluted places (in alphabetical order by country):
- Sumqayit, Azerbaijan
- Linfen, China
- Tianying, China
- Sukinda, India
- Vapi, India (Update: Removed from list due to significant improvements)
- La Oroya, Peru
- Dzerzhinsk, Russia
- Norilsk, Russia
- Chernobyl, Ukraine
- Kabwe, Zambia
- Godwin, Kenya
- Matanza, Argentina
- Hazaribagh Thana, Bangladesh
- DongYangHuaxi, China
- Lanzhou, China
- Urumqi, China
- Wanshan, China
- Haina, Dominican Republic
- Oriente, Ecuador
- Mahad Industrial Estate, India
- Ranipet, India
- Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan
- Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan
- Mexico City, Mexico
- Huancavelica, Peru
- Meycauayan, Philippines
- Marilao, Philippines
- Bratsk, Russia
- Chita, Russia
- Magnitogorsk, Russia
- Rudnaya Pristan, Russia
- Harvey, Fiona (2007-09-12). "Planet's most polluted sites unveiled". The Financial Times.
- Sampathkumar, Mythili (April 8, 2015). "MEET A 2015-ER: RICHARD FULLER". Un Dispatch.
- various authors (October 19, 2017). "The Lancet Commission on pollution and health". The Lancet. 391 (10119).
- "Incubating Ideas for Change at the Bellagio Center". Pollution Blog. Blacksmith Institute. 18 April 2012. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- "Health and Pollution Fund". Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- "Global Alliance on Health and Pollution". Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Dolan, David (5 May 2009). "Toxic hotspots affect 600 million in developing world". Reuters. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- editor, Damian Carrington Environment (2017-05-28). "The world's most toxic town: the terrible legacy of Zambia's lead mines". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-01-31.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- "Six UN-backed green awards handed out for work in disasters". UN News Centre. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Walsh, Bryan (18 October 2010). "Power of One". TIME Magazine. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- 2015 full report
- 2014full report
- "Worst Polluted". Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Rudolf, John Collins (29 October 2009). "Report Notes Few Toxic Cleanup Successes". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Leahy, Stephen (29 October 2009). "A Dozen Countries Take on Toxic Pollution". North America Inter Press Service. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Biello, David (29 October 2009). "Can the World's Most Polluted Places Ever Be Cleaned?". Scientific American. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Frierson, Burton (28 October 2009). "Global pollution-fighters find scant success". Reuters. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- "Top 10 Most Polluted Places 2007". Worst Polluted. Retrieved 21 November 2013.[permanent dead link]
- "12 Cases of Cleanup and Success 2009". Worst Polluted. Retrieved 21 November 2013.