The World's Most Toxic Town


Subsistence mining at Kabwe's Black Mountain.

Lead levels in Kabwe are as much as 100 times recommended safety levels. Image by Larry C Price. Zambia, 2017.

Extension Activities

  1. Spend an hour exploring http://www.pureearth.org/.  What most resonated with you? Why?
  2. Use an Internet search engine to find the 1920’s ad “the Dutch boy's hobby a paint book for boys and girls” as a starting point to analyze the changes and continuities of Americans relationship with lead over the last 100 years.  Students could create a timeline articulating these changes and continuities or create a T-chart.
  3. Research lead poisoning rates around the world.  Create a map that visually illustrates these findings.
  4. Research lead poisoning in your city/town.  Compare and contrast the causes, effects and responses to lead poisoning in Kabwe, Zambia with the causes, effects and responses to lead poisoning in your city/town.
  5. Encourage students to test their home’s water for lead.  Some municipalities offer this service free of charge.  For example, in Chicago, residents call 311to request a free water quality test kit.  More information can be found at http://www.chicagowaterquality.org/
  6. Using reputable sources like the CDC and Mayo Clinic, research lead poisoning prevention.  Using social media, teach others about your findings.
Educator Notes: 



Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.


Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social studies.


Analyze how a text uses structure to emphasize key points or advance an explanation or analysis.



  • Students will analyze textual and visual elements of the article to assess the value of language and imagery in storytelling.
  • Students will critically consider the causes of, effects of and responses to lead poisoning.
  • Students will assess the various stakeholders responsibilities.


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