Pure Earth is implementing a clean-up project to reduce lead pollution in the community of Rangapuram, India.
Recycled lead is a valuable commodity, making the recovery of car batteries (known as used lead-acid batteries or ULAB) a profitable business. However, in many developing countries ULAB recycling and smelting operations are conducted in the open air, in densely populated urban areas, and with few pollution controls.
Lead is a dangerous toxin that can provoke severe and lasting health problems. Chronic lead exposure is associated with cognitive impairment, cardiovascular effects, anaemia and low birth weight, among other effects. Children are the most vulnerable category as exposure to lead can cause permanent loss of cognitive abilities.
Our partner Pure Earth, a leader in global toxic pollution clean-up, started in 2015 a research about the impact of lead pollution in Patna, Bihar State, India. A preliminary soil sampling conducted in ULAB recycling areas, often located near inhabited neighbourhoods, demonstrated that lead contamination in soil was dangerously surpassing United States’ accepted standards. These alarming results urged Pure Earth to set up a remediation plan to clean the soil and water and improve industrial processes of local informal smelters.
Building on the positive results of the operation in Patna, Trafigura Foundation decided to support the expansion of Pure Earth’s interventions to the State of Tamil Nadu. Pure Earth completed an assessment in the community of Rangapuram, close to the city of Vellore, where a ULAB smelter is operating near a childcare centre and residential area.
Our partnership has helped Pure Earth implement a cleanup project to remove lead contaminated soil in the community of Rangapuram, India. Many years of lead smelting without proper environmental controls, has resulted in highly contaminated soil around a childcare centre and nearby residential housing. Pure Earth and the local government authorities ensured that the polluting activity from the smelter ended, while educating community members and leaders on how to protect themselves and their children from lead exposure.
This intervention will dramatically improve the health and life prospects of the community of Rangapuram, where circa 1,500 people live in disadvantaged conditions.