NEW YORK (July 29, 2020) – Pure Earth, Clarios Foundation and UNICEF today announced a new global partnership to protect children from lead exposure.
Around 1 in 3 children – up to 800 million globally – have blood lead levels indicative of lead poisoning. Lead is a potent neurotoxin that can cause irreparable harm to child development. Lead poisoning in babies and children under the age of five damages their brains before they have had the opportunity to fully develop, leading to lifelong neurological, cognitive and physical impairment.
Informal and substandard recycling of lead-acid batteries is a leading contributor to exposure in areas where children play, live and go to school in low- and middle-income countries.
The Protecting Every Child’s Potential initiative will work to raise awareness of the impact of lead exposure on children’s long-term health and development and mobilize action to abolish dangerous practices that cause harmful lead exposure. It will draw on the three organizations’ complementary expertise: the rehabilitation of contaminated sites, the safe manufacturing and responsible recycling of lead acid batteries, and the promotion of children’s health and rights.
The initiative will first focus its efforts on Bangladesh, Georgia, Ghana and Indonesia. Clarios Foundation and Pure Earth will integrate their work underway in Mexico.
“Children affected by lead poisoning rarely get a second chance,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “Once the damage is done, their lifelong potential is forever reduced. Protecting children from lead exposure is critical to the development of children, their communities, societies and economies. This new partnership is a critical step in stopping lead pollution at the source and creating a safe environment for every child.”
When lead-acid batteries end up in the informal economy, unregulated and often illegal operations can release acid and lead dust into the soil and smelt lead in open-air furnaces that emit toxic fumes across surrounding neighborhoods. Since 2000, Pure Earth interventions to mitigate damage from toxic sites have affected almost five million people — 20 per cent being children under the age of six. Pure Earth and the Clarios Foundation have worked together recently to bring awareness and solutions to the issues of lead exposure through mitigation projects.
“The good news is lead-contaminated sites can be remediated and restored,” said Richard Fuller, President of Pure Earth. “People can be educated about the dangers of lead and empowered to protect themselves and their children. The return on the investment is enormous: improved health, increased productivity, higher IQs, less violence, and brighter futures for millions of children across the planet.”
Clarios Foundation will fund the formation of the PECP initiative, help mobilize support, and bring its expertise in sustainable circular economy innovation for lead-acid batteries.
“We are proud to join forces with two globally-respected organizations to eliminate informal and illegal lead recycling practices,” said Adam Muellerweiss, Chief Sustainability Officer, Clarios. “Proven practices, responsible recycling and circular economy principles can help protect the health and potential of every child.”
The PECP will also draw lessons from the projects in countries to expand the most effective interventions to protect children’s health and futures.
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About Pure Earth
Reduce Pollution, Save Lives, Protect The Planet
Pure Earth saves and improves lives, particularly the lives of children in poor communities by reducing disease-causing pollution. We identify toxic hot spots and teach communities how to improve soil, water and air quality with cost effective solutions. This field work, combined with our groundbreaking research and advocacy, elevates solving pollution to a global priority.
About Clarios Foundation
Clarios Foundation is a Wisconsin-based charitable nonstock corporation with funding primarily from Clarios, LLC - a world leader in advanced energy storage solutions, a 2020 signatory of the United Nations Global Compact, committed to aligning its strategies and operations with universal principles focused on human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption.
Clarios Foundation supports three main focus areas: Children’s Health and the Environment, Circular Economy Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Sustainable Communities.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
UNICEF is committed to preventing lead exposure in children through the implementation of its Health Environments for Healthy Children programme.
UNICEF does not endorse any company brand, product or service.
For further information, please contact
Ann Reinking Whitener
+1 212 922 2623