Kabwe, Zambia is the world’s most toxic town according to pollution experts. Fumes from a large state-owned smelter that closed in 1994 produced lead levels that are as much as 100 times the recommended safety levels, damaging the organs of generations of children and affecting thousands of people every day. The effects of lead poisoning cannot be reversed, including brain damage, paralysis, blindness, and death.
“It is shocking to think that we are here in 2017 and that problem we have known about for decades is still here,” said Jack Caravanos, an environmental health professor at New York University and advisor to Pure Earth. Fortunately, two years ago, non-profit organizations like Environment Africa and Pure Earth began to clean up homes using workers from the community, targeting the most polluted homes first and replacing their yards with clean soil. In addition to the ongoing work from these organizations, a new $65MM project for Kabwe and three other copperbelt mining areas would offer constant medical surveillance and treatment programs to anyone with high blood lead levels, pending its approval. Caravanos believes that though Kabwe may never be a lead-free town, it can be a lead safe town. Click here to read more on this story from The Guardian.