Blacksmith Institute Fact Sheet

Press Contact: Magdalene Sim,


About Blacksmith Institute

Blacksmith Institute is an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to solving life-threatening pollution issues in the developing world. A global leader in this field, Blacksmith addresses a critical need to identify and clean up the world's worst polluted places, focusing on sites where pollution threatens human health, especially where children are most at risk.

Based in New York, Blacksmith works cooperatively around the world in partnerships that include governments, the international community, NGOs and local agencies, to design and implement innovative, low-cost solutions to save lives. Since 1999, Blacksmith has completed over 50 projects; Blacksmith is currently engaged in over 30 projects in 15 countries.

Blacksmith Institute is known for its annual World's Worst Polluted reports; for the creation of the Blacksmith Index (used around the world to rate levels of health risk from pollution); and for the Blacksmith database, the only resource of its kind, which currently documents over 2,100 of the world's worst polluted sites. Blacksmith is currently expanding this database with the Global Toxic Site Identification Program, a worldwide effort to assess and document some 3000 polluted sites in over 60 countries.

In 2008, Blacksmith began efforts to create a global alliance to finance the cleanup and elimination of legacy pollution in the developing world.



* Blacksmith Institute Press Kit

* Blacksmith Institute Press Releases

* Blacksmith Pollution Newsletters

* Read Blacksmith's World's Worst Pollluted Reports

* Download Blacksmith's Annual Reports

* Read Blacksmith Papers, including reports on the effects of toxic lead on maternal and child health and the cost-effectiveness of pollution cleanup.

* See Key Blacksmith Programs

* Search Blacksmith's database by pollutant, country or region.

* Read some of our Success Stories

* Watch video and download photographs here (credit: Blacksmith Institute). More images and videos/B-rolls are available on request.


Expert Resources


Please contact us to speak with Blacksmith Institute President Richard Fuller and other experts, including members of our Technical Advisory Board, for topics including:

  • Global pollution problems and solutions
  • the world's worst polluted places
  • the world's worst pollution problems
  • public health issues/pollution and disease
  • children and pollution
  • Health effects of pollution
  • lead poisoning
  • mercury pollution
  • air and water pollution
  • e-waste and industrial waste
  • Legacy pollution
  • Blacksmith projects around the world

Field Access:

Field Access to Blacksmith projects around the world may be available on request.


Project Highlights

Since 1999, Blacksmith has completed over 50 projects; Blacksmith is currently engaged in over 30 projects in 14 countries.  Highlights include:

* Global Toxic Site Identification Program

* Lead Poisoning and Car Batteries Project

* Artisanal Gold Mining (Mercury poisoning)


In-Country Representation

Countries include Cambodia, China, the Dominican Republic, Guinea, India, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mozambique, Nepal, the Philippines, Russia, Senegal, Tanzania, Thailand, and Zambia.

Headquarters:  New York City, London.


Blacksmith Focus

Human Health

Blacksmith focuses on pollution that poses a threat to human health, working in highly polluted places where children, in particular, are most at risk. In some of the world's worst polluted places, babies are born with birth defects, children have lost 30 to 40 IQ points and suffer from neurological delays, disease is widespread, and life expectancy can be as low as as 45 years because of lung, throat and thyroid cancers.


Blacksmith's focus is on implementing solutions.  Blacksmith does not function as a watchdog. Co-operation is key.



Blacksmith's method of remediating highly polluted sites is one of the most cost effective methods to improve life expectancy in the developing world.

Blacksmith projects range in cost between $1 and $50 per year of life gained.

The cost to save a human life through the removal of hazardous pollution on Blacksmith projects can be as little as $42*. (* Study reviewed by the centers for children's health and environment at Johns Hopkins University, Hunter College and the Mt. Sinai School of Public Health.)


Filling a Crucial Gap 

Blacksmith is the leading organization active in toxics cleanup on a global scale.

Most current international programs regulate the production and use of select toxins and the trans-boundary movement of waste rather than the mitigation or remediation of existing pollution. It is a global problem that is just emerging on the international radar screen.


Success Stories

In Muthia Village, in Gujarat, India, 60,000 tons of toxic wastes with heavy metals have been dumped over the past 10 years by industrial plants. The region has extremely high rates of cancer, premature deaths and stillbirths. Blacksmith funded a pilot project to decontaminate the soil using worms that concentrate the heavy metals in their bodies. The project has been a success and is being expanded.

In Rudnaya Pristan, Russia, lead pollution from a now abandoned lead smelter has contaminated the soil throughout the region. The local population shows clear evidence of neurological damage, contract lung and stomach cancer at five times the prevailing rate, and blood cancers at 33 times the prevailing rate. Blacksmith initiated a project to replace contaminated soils in schoolyards with clean soils, and is monitoring the decline in blood lead levels as the project makes an impact.  Cleanup work continues schoolyard by schoolyard.

Read More Success Stories


About Pollution

* Pollution is a global public health crisis.  It affects 100 million people around the world, with tens of thousands poisoned and killed each year.

* The World Health Organization estimates that 20 per cent of deaths in the developing world directly result from pollution.

* In some of the world's worst polluted places, babies are born with birth defects, children have lost 30 to 40 IQ points, and life expectancy may be as low as 45 years because of cancers and other diseases.

* Life-threatening pollution has been almost eliminated in developed countries with efforts such as the Superfund initiative in the U.S. and similar programs in other countries, and the removal of lead from gasoline and asbestos from buildings. 

* In the developing world, however, the problem is growing because of the drive to industrialize. Sustainable globalization should be a shared responsibility and goal.

* Pollution cleanup is one part of the global green solution.  However, despite growing alarm over environmental issues, driven by legitimate fears about global warming and climate change, the problem of pollution is falling through the cracks.

* Pollution is a finite problem that can be solved.


Staff and Key Advisors

  • Richard Fuller - Founder and President
  • David Hanrahan - Principal Technical Advisor
  • Meredith Block - Manager, Programs
  • Bret Ericson - Program Officer; Task Manager, Global Inventory Project
  • Rachael Vinyard - Senior Development Associate
  • Magdalene Sim - Director, Communications
  • Program Staff - 6 regional program coordinators; 12 country coordinators
  • Technical Advisory Board - A committee of 22 experts in environment and health