This month, we are happy to report on the cleanup of a Russian children's summer camp (pictured above) in Smychka village and at other sites near Rudnaya Pristan, one of our success stories. Blacksmith's focus in this region is on playgrounds, kindergartens, sandboxes, sports fields and other areas used by children.
Blacksmith relies on many good people working behind the scenes, who quietly make sure that our projects get completed around the world. In this newsletter, meet Sheldon Kasowitz, a good friend and a Blacksmith board member. I would like to say a personal thank you to Sheldon and everyone in our growing network of supporters. Together we can eliminate toxic pollution in the developing world.
And if you are in the New York area on September 21, please join us for a round of golf to benefit Blacksmith. You will be contributing to the cleanup of the sites like these you will read about here.
-- Richard Fuller
It is time for Blacksmith's latest Top Ten report. We are currently calling for nominations--this year's report will highlight successful strategies and techniques that have been used to eliminated toxic pollution.
Please submit your nominations for a successfully remediated site or innovative technology by August 31.
Our previous reports have generated greater public awareness of pollution issues and sites on the list have reported improved conditions due to the increased scrutiny.
Russia: Success Story--Playgrounds, Sandboxes, Schools Get Cleaned Up
Last year, Time magazine reported that Blacksmith's cleanup work in the town had "sharply reduced lead contamination at little cost."
The latest Blacksmith report shows a significant 37% drop in lead blood concentration among children tested.
Targeting Playgrounds and Schools
Over the past two years, Blacksmith, together with Green Cross Switzerland, has been working with the Far Eastern Environmental Health Fund (FEHF) to implement a strategy focused on reducing health risks to children.
Led by FEHF's Petr Sharov, the team cleaned up playgrounds, sandboxes, football fields, beaches, school grounds, and other areas used by children. Poison removal was conducted at Chaika, a children's summer camp in Smychka village and at a kindergarten in Serzhantovo, among other locations.
A reference book (in Russian) for parents "Lead and Health of Your Children" was also printed and distributed to kindergartens in the region.
As work to reverse over 70 years of pollution damage continues, children in the Rudnaya Pristan region can now have fun without fear of being poisoned.
According to the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics, up to 10 million mobile phones and millions of television sets, refrigerators, washing machines and computers are thrown away each year in China. About 40% of this e-waste ends up in Guangdong Provice, the center of China's electronic waste recycling and reclamation industry.
To help stem this growing problem, Blacksmith is launching an e-waste project in the city of Qing Yuan in northern Guangdong.
This small city of 100,000 people is dominated by more than 1000 e-waste "break and burn" plants, where electronic devices are dismantled and incinerated. A quarter of the population work in the industry. If unregulated, the "break and burn" process releases countless toxic compounds including lead, mercury and cadmium.
The Blacksmith project aims to develop a health standard for the industry, monitor pollutants and explore different disposal technologies. To ensure its success, Blacksmith will work with local groups including the South China Institute of Environmental Science, the Solid Waste Management Center of Guangdong Province, the Renewable Metal Trade Association of Qing Yuan City, as well as local e-waste recyclers.
(Photograph by Bert van Dijk, e-waste in China)
Blacksmith has joined forces with Fondo Nacional Para El Fomento De Las Artesanias (FONART) to combat the threat posed by lead-based ceramics glazes in Mexico. FONART is a government agency that has been successfully working for years to remove lead from the country's large artisanal ceramics industry.
An estimated 50,000 ceramics producers in Mexico use lead-based glazes. Toxic lead dust from the process pollute the community. As a result, lead blood levels for locals in some cases are five times higher than the international standard, producing irreparable neuorlogical damage in children. The joint program will build on FONART's experience while adding Blacksmith's resources and technical expertise.
Blacksmith experts were recently in Indonesia training investigators to search out Asia's most polluted sites. This is part of the ongoing Global Inventory Project (GIP) to document and compile the world's first comprehensive database of the worst polluted places.
Training sessions have already been completed in Eastern Europe, China and India for investigators in those regions
The GIP is scheduled for completion in 2010. Over 200 of the worst polluted sites in the GIP will be given priority for cleanup under the Health and Pollution Fund (HPF). Once this is done, toxic pollution will, for the most part, be eliminated in the developing world.
As of August 2009, Blacksmith has removed Vapi, India, from the list of Top Ten Worst Polluted Places because of siginificant improvements in pollution management. Vapi is a good example of how industry has proactively worked to clean up pollution. Their committment to working with government and NGOs to solve pollution problems should be replicated throughout India. Read the updated report here.
Sheldon Kasowitz knows a thing or two about investing. As managing partner and co-founder of Indus Capital Partners, Kasowitz oversees an alternative investment firm managing more than $3 billion worldwide. As a member of Blacksmith's Board of Directors, Kasowitz contributes to the cleanup and restoration of one of world's most important and threatened assets--the environment.
"Supporting Blacksmith generates a positive return on so many economic and non-economic levels," says Kasowitz. "Moreover, the results are measurable. We can document the number of sites cleaned and guage the number of lives saved. Already Blacksmith is on track to achieve their big goal of eliminating toxic pollution in the developing world and I am glad to be a part of the team."
Kasowitz and his wife, Samantha, have long supported causes that affect children, the environment and education. This inlcudes a major endowment to an environmental center at his alma mater, the University of Connecticut, as well as children's and education causes in the U.S., Asia, Colombia and Nicaragua.
"Sheldon works around the world and understands that pollution is one of the most critical environmental issues," says Richard Fuller, president, Blacksmith Institute. "His help has been invulable in gathering support for our projects so that people in some of the worst polluted places on earth have a chance to lead productive lives."
Blacksmith's Board of Directors is made up of leaders from the corporate world and a variety of other fields who offer crucial support in tackling the global toxic polution problem. They are part of the growing network of support for Blacksmith.
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