Top ten success stories against dangerous pollutants

Green Cross Switzerland and US-based Blacksmith Institute have published a list of the ten of the most successful programmes to clean up some of the most polluted spots.

Unlike previous studies when reports focused on most polluted sites, this year the report focuses on most successful solutions.
“This year, instead of our annual listing of the world’s most polluted places or most dangerous pollutants, we are focusing on the positive and promising developments in the fight against life-threatening pollutants,” says Richard Fuller, president and founder of Blacksmith Institute.
“The takeaway here is that eliminating pollutants is difficult but not impossible. We just need to find the resources and the commitment to do it and to do it quickly,” adds Dr. Stephan Robinson, Unit Manager (Water, Legacy) at Green Cross Switzerland.
The 2009 Environmental Report about the world’s top ten successful clean-up solutions illustrates the current state of affairs in the most polluted places. It highlights strategies, projects and sites that have proven successful in addressing pollution that cripples and kills millions of children and adults in the developing world every year.
They range from modest local projects – like the complete removal of toxic land from the site of a planned children’s playground in the Dominican Republic – to sweeping initiatives such as a 12-year, multi-billion dollar overhaul of Shanghai’s Suzhou Creek. In addition to the top ten sites, the report features two success stories with worldwide impact: the global phase-out of leaded gasoline and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) seeking to eliminate all chemical weapons by 2012 in all member states.
The overwhelming success of these clean-up programmes illustrates it is possible to fight against pollution in developing countries leading to dramatic improvements in human health and even save lives, especially those of children.
These bright spots should persuade governments and non-governmental organisations to step up funding for similar remediation programs, concludes the independent environmental report issued today by New York-based Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland.
A copy of the report is available for download on the Green Cross Switzerland website. The report includes the following ten programs, alphabetically listed and unranked, as examples of successful efforts to reduce the impact of pollutants on human health:
Accra, Ghana: the broad communication and distribution of affordable cooking stoves to reduce indoor air pollution that causes respiratory illnesses among women and children;
Candelaria, Chile: comprehensive elimination of waste from copper mining and purification of surface and ground water;
Dalnegorsk-/Rudnaya Pristan District, Russia: removal of lead-contaminated soil in children’s playgrounds and replacing it with uncontaminated soil in order to lower blood lead levels in children;
Delhi, India: initiating highly effective public policies to reduce the vehicle emissions that cause urban air pollution responsible for respiratory illnesses;
Bajos de Haina, Dominican Republic: removal of soil contaminated by the improper recycling of used car batteries to reduce alarming lead levels in children;
Kalimantan, Indonesia: new techniques to reduce mercury poisoning from artisanal gold mining;
Suzhou Creek, Shanghai, China: 12-year program to clean up sewage in an urban waterway that supplies drinking water to millions;
Tanzania: removal of pesticide stockpiles (e.g. DDT) responsible for soil and water contamination that has caused poisoning among local residents;
Chernobyl-affected areas, Eastern Europe: medical, psychological and pedagogical interventions to improve the lives and livelihoods of those living in zones of radioactive contamination;
West Bengal, India: reduction of arsenic poisoning through the removal of naturally occurring arsenic in well water.
Two additional initiatives with worldwide impact:
Leaded gasoline phase-out: global efforts by governments, multilateral agencies and the private sector to eliminate lead in gasoline and prevent neurological damage;
Elimination of chemical weapons: the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) seeks to eliminate 71,194 tons of declared chemical weapons in all member states by 2012.
About Green Cross Switzerland
Green Cross Switzerland is committed to overcoming consequential damages caused by industrial and military disasters and the clean-up of contaminated sites from the period of the Cold War. Central issues are the improvement of the living quality of people affected by chemical, radioactive and other types of contamination as well as the promotion of a sustainable development in the spirit of co-operation instead of confrontation.
About Blacksmith Institute 
Blacksmith Institute is an international non-profit organization dedicated to solving life-threatening environmental issues in the developing world. It works to identify and clean up the world’s most polluted places. Blacksmith focuses its activities on places where human health, especially that of women and children, is most at risk. Based in New York, Blacksmith works in partnership with governments, the international community, NGOs and local agencies to design and implement innovative, low-cost solutions to save lives. Since 1999, Blacksmith has completed over 50 projects and is currently engaged in over 40 projects in 19 countries
Contacts Dr. Stephan Robinson Unit Manager (Water, Legacy) at Green Cross Switzerland
  • Green Cross, Dr. Stephan Robinson, Unit Manager (Water, Legacy)
  • Mobile: +41 079 625 64 67.

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