New Initiatives for Lead Exposure in Vietnam

A study looked at the village of Dong Mai, which created an industry out of recycling batteries and thus an overexposure to lead.

SEATTLE—A Tuesday afternoon session at AIHce 17 examined an initiative by the Blacksmith Institute to help a village in Vietnam overcome a massive exposure to lead. The solution they came up with was unexpected, and effective.

The village of Dong Mai in Vietnam became known for one thing during the late 20th century: recycling acid lead batteries. By recycling old batteries, breaking them down and stripping the lead, they were able to repurpose the ingots and thus make a profit. This profit enabled the creation of a lead industry within the village.

As you can imagine, this industry created a number of health issues that were not fully known until 2007, when an inspection documented “extremely” high levels of lead in the village.

With that, the Blacksmith Institute, as well as the University of Washington, spearheaded the need for change in the area. The problem was, the villagers had been there for generations, and there was no place for them to go, and no place for the soil to be replaced.

The solution? Pektin, which is a compound found in citrus fruit. When given to individuals, they found that the Pektin was able to help absorb some of the lead in the blood, and was able to pass through the urine.

To read more about the project, click here

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