Images may be downloaded for use in relationship to
the 2015 report The New Top six Toxic Threats: A Priority List for Remediation only. Please credit images as noted in captions.
Workers of Perkampungan Industri Kecil (PIK) in Tegal Regency of Central Java, Indonesia sort used-lead acid battery waste and conduct smelting operations. Efforts by Pure Earth have encouraged zoning initiatives to relocate industrial operations away from residential villages. While relocating operations to an urban industrial center decreases hazardous exposure to villagers, workers continue to be exposed through inhalation of contaminated dust particles.
A worker smelts or to extract lead in Bihar, India. Smelting involves the application of heat to mineral-rich rock or scrap metal to extract valuable metals. Health effects from exposure to lead via inhalation or ingestion include neurological damage, IQ decrement, anemia, muscle and joint pain, loss of memory, decreased concentration, nerve disorders, infertility, increased blood pressure and chronic headaches.
A PIK worker transfers a bar of lead resulting from ULAB recycling. Spent lead-acid batteries are a substantial source of recycled lead worldwide and have become a significant source of income for many poor communities in LMICs. As of 2014, lead had one of the highest recycling rates in the world even when compared to more conspicuously consumed products such as newspaper, glass, aluminum and copper.
The villagers of Dong Mai, Vietnam have turned to battery recycling and small-scale lead smelting to earn their living. Pure Earth, working with international partners and local officials, measured lead contamination in homes and yards in Dog Mai. After remediation activities were completed at cost of $20 a person for the entire village, residents’ BLLs were shown to drop more than 30%.
Temiraly Sarbashov, a local of Mailuu Suu, Kyrgzystan, stands at the entrance of dump filled with waste resulting from uranium processing. Between 1946 and 1968, Mailuu Suu produced and processed more than 10,000 metric tons of uranium ore. Workers are paid the equivalent of $400 U.S. dollars for two weeks for relocating and managing tailings dumps.
A tailings dump at Mailuu Suu contains radiocnuclides such as uranium, strontium and cesium mixed with the groundwater supply. Food and water sources may become contaminated from uranium-contaminated water and dust generated from past mining activities.
Residents of Mailuu Suu have been afflicted with a variety of ailments relating to radionuclide exposure. High rates of birth defects, miscarriages and stillbirths continue to place an enormous burden on the region’s population.
On the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, a ball mill operation uses pure mercury to facilitate gold extraction form ore. The use of mercury in gold mining has been made illegal in Indonesia. However, its use continues in remote operations and as a result of existing black markets and corruption. Many industrial processes such as ASGM involve the heating of elemental mercury, resulting in the release of mercury vapors into the environment. These mercuric vapors can then settle as dust onto soil surfaces or surface water bodies through precipitation.
At the Rau Rau mining camp in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, a miner pour mercury from a pan to be used in one of the thousands of ball mills that are used to process gold ore. The process results in a thick slurry that is further processed to extract gold particles in the suspended liquid. Much of the mercury used in this process is spilled or atomized, finding its way directly into the environment. Waste piles with elemental mercury may lead to further contamination if they are not properly protected from natural forces such as wind and rainfall, and the mine waste leachates can persist in rivers, lakes and streams for years, posing serious health risks.
Naicila, a five year old, bathes under a pipe carrying runoff from a nearby mining site outside the Padang Bilah mining community in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. It is estimated that one to two grams of mercury are released into the environment for every gram of gold retrieved by ASGM.
At the Padang Bilah mining community in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesida, 30-year-old miner Rizki adds mercury to a pan of gold ore. At his right is his eight year old daughter, Ismawati. Pure Earth’s ASGM intervention projects all have the same objective: to introduce affordable techniques to artisanal mining communities to eliminate or reduce mercury emissions. A number of cleaner alternatives to mercury amalgamation currently exist for gold extraction. However, many artisanal communities have been using the traditional practice of mercury amalgamation for decades and are unaware of alternatives.
Chromium-contaminated wastewater from leather tanneries often finds its way into nearby water sources used for drinking, bathing and irrigation. Due to the relatively inexpensive cost of labor and materials, almost half of the world’s tanning and leather industries are located in low- and middle-income countries.
Effluents from chromium industries may contain high concentrations of dissolved and suspended organic and inorganic solids, toxic metal salts, heavy metals, chrome and harmful electrolytes. These effluents often contaminate surface and groundwater sources, posing a serious hazard to nearby communities.
A young worker pulls discarded leather trimmings from local tanneries. Tannery operation regions, such as in Dhaka, Bangladesh, can produce from 600 to 1,000 kilograms of solid waste for each ton of processed hide.
A man works in the chromium fields of Kanpur, India, an area that receives waste from, nearby tannery factories. Inhalation of chromium particles is the most common route of exposure on occupational settings. Observations documenting higher lung cancer rates in workers occupationally exposed to chromium date back to the 1930s.
An agricultural worker sprays pesticides on a field in the Punjab region of northwest India. The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 3 million agricultural workers primarily from LMICs suffer from acute pesticide poisoning.
Vegetables are commonly washed alongside drainage channels where pesticide runoff may collect. This is one of many ways that persistent organic pollutants may enter the food chain and bioaccumulate in the humans and animals that consume them.
A farmer stands in a crop field in the Malwa region of Punjab, India. Pesticides are used extensively throughout the world to increase agricultural output and protect crops from pests and disease. However, many of these compounds pose harmful health risks and difficulty lies in striking a balance between food security and the desire to protect the health of populations and the environment.
Sukhbeer Kaur (19) holds a portrait of her father, Pippal Singh, who died in 2010 of cancer at the age of 40. Excessive pesticide use in the region is thought to contribute to an increase incidence of cancer. Exposure to pesticides is a known risk factor for cancer development affecting the prostate, pancreas, liver, lungs and other organs.
A rice paddy field near the Guixi smelter in the Jianxi province of China is readied for remediation. The Guixi smelter is the largest copper factory in China, and began smelting operations in the 1980’s. The contamination of farmland via industrial processes is thought to be the main source of cadmium exposure for the non-smoking population. Leafy vegetables and other agricultural products may bioconcentrate cadmium from the soil and serve as an exposure pathway through the diet.
A worker applies lime and soil amendments consisting of wheat milling byproduct to adjust soil pH in an agricultural field. By adjust soil pH, cadmium may be fixed in soil preventing it from leaching into groundwater and entering crops. Cadmium may enter the body through the diet and due to its unique toxicological profile, extremely low concentrations are capable of causing significant toxicity.
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 860. New York, NY 10115 USA
Phone: (212) 647 8330
Fax: +1 (212) 870 3488
Media inquiries should be directed to Magdalene Sim
Media inquiries in Europe should be directed to Nathalie Gysi at:
web design by searchlight