News Columns & Blogs

Children of Lead

From Lucie award-winning Burn magazine and photographer Michael Mullady:© Michael Mullady“At an altitude slightly above twelve thousand feet, in the Central Andean region of Peru, pollution is a fact of life for the inhabitants of La Oroya. Since 1922, the city of La Oroya has been exposed to toxic emissions released from the Doe Run Peru metal smelting plant….”© Michael Mullady“…Doe Run Peru is a subsidiary of Missouri-based Doe Run, the world's largest primary lead producer and the world's second largest total lead producer. Doe Run is part of the privately held New York-based Renco group….”© Michael Mullady“…Peru's state mining company Centromin operated the 80-year-old La Oroya facility for 25 years before Doe Run bought it in 1997. The smelter processes concentrates, producing 11 metals and nine by-products, including copper, lead, zinc and silver.”© Michael Mullady“A Health Ministry study from the government of Peru showed that 90% of the children tested had lead poisoning, a condition, which causes mental retardation, hyperactivity, liver and kidney disease and even death. Lab studies revealed that many of these children had levels of lead in their bodies four times greater than what the World Health Organization considers the normal amount. In addition to brain damage, children are at high risk of developing lung cancer as well as other respiratory ailments, skin conditions and digestive disorders. As the plant continues to release lead, copper, zinc and sulfur dioxide into the air on a daily basis, generations of young children will be exposed to environmental and health risks.”

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