living in pollution

This post was submitted by photographer Toby Binder

Blacksmith Institute and Greencross Switzerland named La Oroya, Peru among the ten worst polluted places worldwide. Many residents suffer from fatal lead poisoning because of the smelting operation at the river. The facility is at the center of a bitter environmental dispute among townsfolk, activists and the smelter's owner.

Melitón Rivera Carhuancho lives with his family in the hillsides above the smelting plant. His house is a 20 square meter room without a toilet or running water. Two of his kids suffer from lead poisoning.

Recent studies show that 99.9 percent of children younger than age seven in the neighborhood closest to the smelter have average lead levels three times higher than what the World Health Organization deems acceptable. Although families denounce the contamination, they also depend on the smelter, which is the city’s main employer.

Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense

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