NEW YORK (October 14, 2020) – Pure Earth, the Clarios Foundation and UNICEF today launched the Protecting Every Child’s Potential (PECP), an awareness raising movement and knowledge platform created to tackle the urgent challenge of children’s exposure to lead which is on a massive and previously unrecognized scale.
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 PECP initiative will mobilize collective measures to reduce lead exposure through heightened awareness, community action, technical assistance, and collaboration across societies and sectors. It draws 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.
PECP is first focusing its efforts on Bangladesh, Georgia, Ghana and Indonesia. Clarios Foundation and Pure Earth will integrate their work underway in Mexico.
As part of the launch, the PECP hosted an online event today where participants were taken on a virtual field visit to Bangladesh, Georgia and Indonesia to learn more about the countries where PECP partners are working to prevent childhood lead exposure. Participants also discussed the importance of public and private partnerships and combining partners’ collective and complementary expertise to address the challenge of lead exposure in children.
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.
“Our team has a long history of successfully remediating and restoring contaminated sites across the world,” said Richard Fuller, CEO and Founder of Pure Earth. “Working with the Clarios Foundation and UNICEF to scale these efforts is exciting, but our three organizations are just the beginning. We need others with a diverse set of expertise to join us in the effort to develop additional systemic solutions to this issue.”
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.
“Children who are exposed to lead risk not fulfilling their potential in life, and with this partnership, we have an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of children and young people around the world,” said Ava Volandes, Vice President Corporate Partnerships, UNICEF USA. “We believe our efforts to protect children from lead exposure must be meaningful, measurable, equitable and ensure sustained progress towards improving the health and well-being of children everywhere.”
“The data is clear, and the solutions to this issue are known,” said Adam Muellerweiss, Chief Sustainability Officer, Clarios. “Everyday batteries around the world are safely collected, transported and recycled. This is what we do, and we invite others to join us to help protect the health and potential of every child.”
PECP will also draw lessons from the projects in countries to expand the most effective interventions to protect children’s health and futures.
Further details, including how to get involved in the initiative, are available at www.protectingeverychildspotential.org.
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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 program.
UNICEF does not endorse any company brand, product or service.
For more information, contact
Ann Reinking Whitener, UNICEF USA, firstname.lastname@example.org