Awareness campaign on lead pollution has been held in Rajabari village of Mirzapur upazila with the participation of more than 200 hundred villagers.
"Together, we can end lead pollution, protect every child's potential" was echoed during the community gathering event which was jointly organised by Pure Earth Bangladesh and the Department of Geology, Dhaka University.
With the support from UNICEF and icddr,b, the event was organised to raise awareness on lead pollution and its impacts on human health and environment.
USAID, TAUW, and Clarios Foundation financed the event and was joined by the community people, local leaders, project partners, and government officials.
The community people shared their experiences of being impacted by the once-active used lead-acid battery factory in the Mirzapur area.
Field Investigation Officer of the project Lutful Kabir said "In Mirzapur, we have found an informal recycling operation processing used lead-acid batteries (ULABs). These activities occurred for more than three and a half years before it was abandoned in February 2019. The uncontrolled smelting of the lead battery components in open pits with no vapor controls left behind residual battery component wastes, concrete processing pads containing the smelting pits, and highly contaminated soil not only in the two processing areas but also in a wide surrounding processing area. This is a severe threat to the community people and the environment as this is a habitant of approximately 600 people. This is why we have started the remediation project to ensure a safe environment for all."
The special guest of the event, Abdul Motaleb, Deputy Director, Air Pollution and Control, Department of Environment said, "If there is any battery recycling factory near your area, you can inform the upzilla officer. Other administration or even the Department of Environment's helpline or email address are at your service." "Pure Earth's lead remediation work is commendable. They have taken a great initiative to solve lead pollution in the Mirzapur area" he added.
Mahbubur Rahman, Lead and Project Coordinator, Environmental Interventions Unit, Enteric and Respiratory Infections Program, Infectious Diseases Division, icddr,b said, "Children and pregnant mothers have the most risk from lead pollution. A high level of lead in the blood causes memory and IQ loss. Also causes permanent brain damage. It has been shown to cause bleeding, miscarriage, still birth, premature birth,
and low birth weight, as well as minor malformations. So, preventing the exposure of lead is the only way to solve lead pollution."
Jannatul Ferdous, Health Officer, UNICEF said, "Pollution from battery factories can spread out to soil, water, and air. Lead pollution damages children's bones and intellectual development. It is our responsibility to ensure children's right to grow in a sound environment with full potential."
The two-hour-long event ended with a folk musical performance from Sundarban Theatre on the lead pollution issue.