Since 1990, ESDO is raising awareness for toxic free world. Our first campaign was anti-polythene bag campaign which was truly a milestone for Bangladesh.

We have worked in different awareness campaign and policy intervention to make our environment regain it’s natural state, hence, become toxic chemicals free. Our major ongoing projects for toxic-free world are:

Marine Plastic Pollution

In Bangladesh, 1.086 million metric tons plastic waste is generated every year from different categories of randomly discarded plastic products. 73 thousand tons of plastics waste ends up in the sea through the Brahmaputra, the Meghna and the Ganges.  Only 5% of all plastic waste produced in Bangladesh is recycled, while 86% is accumulated in landfills and dump sites. Lack of knowledge, understanding and public awareness regarding marine pollution and micro plastic litter is main reason for this pollution. In this context, Environment and Social Development Organization, ESDO has initiated the project entitled “Combating the Pollution Threat from Micro-plastic Litter to Save Marine Health in the Bay of Bengal”, which aims to ban the use of Microbeads and single-use plastics thus stop their flow into the Bay of Bengal.

Mercury Phase Out

ESDO has been conducting studies to identify mercury sources and products containing mercury since 2012. ESDO believes that there is an emerging need to compile and streamline the information on mercury us-age in various products in Bangladesh to help government to advance the ratification and implementation of the Minamata Convention.

“Reduction of demand for Mercury in mercury containing products in Bangladesh” Project:

This project is implemented by Environment and Social Development Organization-ESDO in association with UNEP. Mercury inventory results in Bangladesh; point to mercury-added products as a significant source of mercury use and release. Products include measuring devices in the health care sector, dental amalgam, energy and power sector, Chlor-alkali production, cement industries, batteries, lamps, electrical devices, gadgets, cosmetics, jewelry, and baby products. This workshop and rally is one more step towards the contentment of this project objective. This program has taken a strategic approach to raise awareness for mercury reduction in Bangladesh, involving different youth activists besides stakeholders and civil society in this environmental movement. The event was a great success in terms of raising awareness and engaging future generation. They welcomed such initiatives of ESDO and urged the government to pay more attention into this issue, take proper and urgent steps to ban mercury consumer goods and requested everyone to go for the alternative to mercury. They offered full support in ESDO’s attempt in banning toxic mercury use globally.

Inception Workshop

Mercury exposure are becoming a serious health and environmental risks in Bangladesh. Phase-out mercury from production to use are demanded in a workshop organized by Environment and Social Development organization-ESDO. Under the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Global Mercury Partnership, the formal inception of the project was held on Thursday in a conference center at Dhanmondi in Dhaka on March 5, 2015.

Amongst the guests present were Mr. Mahmood Hasan Khan, Director (AQM), Department of Environment, Dr. Mohidus Samad Khan, Assistant Prof. Department of Chemical Engineering, BUET, Dr. Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah, Proffessor, Department of Public Administration, University of Dhaka, Khaleda Ahsan, Chief Engineer (add charge), DPHE took part on the discussion. Over 80 professionals, experts and government  from MoH&FW, MoEF, MoCom, MoI, DoE, DAE,  DU, JU, BUET, BCSIR, City Corporation, BSTI, BDS, BARC, BPDB, paediatrics, electronic, jewellery, cosmetic, battery industries, Manufacturers Association, media participated in the inception workshop.

Stakeholder Consultation, 12 May, 2015. 

Concerned stakeholders emphasized taking necessary steps to ban mercury use in a number of consumer products in a stakeholder consultation recently, says a press release. Environment and Social Development Organisation (ESDO) in association with United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) arranged the consultation, “Reduction of demand for Mercury, in mercury containing products in Bangladesh.” The discussants expressed their grave concerns over the extent of mercury hazards in Bangladesh and underlined the urgent need for ratifying the Minamata Convention through making policies and enforcing laws.

The consultation was chaired by Syed Marghub Murshed, former secretary and chairperson of ESDO. He called for everyone’s help in building mercury and chemical free, hence, a safe and healthy environment. Dr. Abu Jafar Mahmood, a mercury researcher and a former faculty of the University of Dhaka said, “Mercury exposure is growing at an alarming rate which is risking environment and public health in Bangladesh. This is one of the responsible agents for causing kidney failure, damaging brain, and reducing the immune system’s efficiency in human body”. He asked professionals from government and non-government organisations, institutions, and common people to be well aware of the toxicity, risks, and any other associated facts of mercury. He also asked them to be fully supportive to ESDO’s effort regarding mercury for the sake a safer environment.

ESDO has conducted an extensive research project and also has raised mass awareness on mercury’ toxicity. A baseline survey has already been done on several sectors. Striking information has been revealed by interviewing around 50 industrialists and more than 200 manufacturers and retailers. According to a report, mercury has been detected in many consumer products such as electronic gadgets, fluorescent bulbs, switches, batteries, thermometer, dental amalgam, jewelries, and beauty products. The imported mercury equivalent to $ USD 16,000 is one of the sources of this mercury in Bangladesh, according to the UN Comtrade Statistics, 2006.

Not only this, the mercury waste discharged from factories pollutes air and water, eventually finds its way to human body. The main objectives of the project are to create public awareness, as well as strengthening capacities to replace mercury-added products and ensure an environmentally sound management of end-of-life mercury-added products in Bangladesh and presenting the primary results of the research conducted by ESDO. Concerned stakeholders and representatives including experts, specialists, and officials from Department of Environment (DoE), Bangladesh Standard Testing Institute (BSTI), Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR), Dhaka University, Jahangir Nagar University, Jagannath University, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), State University, Bangladesh Dental Society (BDS), health sectors and associations participated in the consultation urged for immediate banning of mercury and mercury containing products.

The participants articulated their concerns on the wide-spread use of mercury in Bangladesh and welcomed such initiatives of ESDO. They urged the government to take proper steps to ban mercury consumer goods and requested everyone to go for the alternative to mercury. They offered full support in ESDO’s attempt in banning mercury globally. Since its birth, Environment and Social Development Organization- ESDO has been committed to working against toxics like mercury through campaigning for mercury free dentistry for a sustainable environmental and societal development.

Campaign on 11th July, 2015: 

The major activities on this day were:

  1. Inception of the project in Dhaka, Bangladesh with concerned stakeholders and government representatives
  1. Conduct a baseline survey on mercury containing products (production to uses) to assess the situation and its environmental impacts and products inventory.
  1. Consultations with professionals of health sector to eliminate mercury devices.
  1. Consultation with producers and major buyers of mercury containing products.
  1. Regional consultation with the partners for technical assistance & knowledge sharing and assessing progress in the project.
  1. Conduct awareness rally by involving youth and children from educational institutions.
  1. Develop and propose guidance in line with the existing international standard, regulatory framework and best practice for alternatives to mercury in products and environmentally sound & safe mercury waste management.
  2. National workshop to disseminate study findings and project outcomes (with concerned stakeholders, government agencies and media).

Project Completion workshop on 17th December 2015:

Owing to the lack of regulation, the harmful use of Mercury reached alarming level in Bangladesh. As a result health risks and environment pollution has increased manifolds. In the year 2014 legally and illegally 58 metric tons of harmful mercury has been imported in Bangladesh. This information has been revealed a study, ‘‘Reduction of Demand of Mercury, in Mercury containing products in Bangladesh” organized by Environment and Social Development Organization- ESDO, in association with United Nation Environment Program (UNEP).

While conducting a primary study on Mercury added products in 2015 ESDO has seen 1.09- 6.22 metric ton mercury vapor is emitted annually from dental amalgam. During the preparation of dental amalgam, if amalgam capsule is leaked, while working with amalgam as well as from different sources Mercury vapor can be released. According to a primary survey result it has been seen that a person breathes in 3 to 17 micro gramsof mercury vapor during dental amalgam filling. Annually this figure ranges from 1,095 grams to 6,205 grams. From jewelry industry approximately 0.85 metric ton of mercury is emitted. According to another study “Mercury Sources: Products & Hotspot on Bangladesh,” by ESDO, published in 2012, 3361 to 4,653 ppm of mercury has been used in various beauty products.

According to the ESDO study findings, a standard thermometer contains0.5 g- 2.0ganda standard sphygmomanometer contains 80g -160g of mercury. Also through the breaking of thermometer and sphygmomanometer annually0.69 tons and 3.3 tons of mercury is released into the atmosphere respectively.

It has been said in a report by ESDO: in Bangladesh there is no appropriate management system of mercury extraction from the environment and there is no specific guideline on the safe use of mercury added products, elements and other chemical compounds. This is why replacing mercury added products from health sector are a challenge. Existing strategies of identifying mercury polluted areas and measuring the harmful consequence of mercury on human body and environment are very limited. The mass communication media lacks awareness regarding this affair and generally people knows very little about mercury contamination. This is why it is imperative that the consumers of mercury added products, policy makers and regulators know about this issue.

Lead Elimination Project

  • Lead paint elimination project

Objective of The Project:

  • Working towards the elimination of all lead in paint in Bangladesh

Primary Goal
To prevent children’s exposure to paints containing lead and to minimize occupational exposure to lead paint.

This will be achieved by:
• Phasing out of the manufacture and sale of paints containing lead;
• building awareness and educating the community on the harmful effects of lead paint and how to reduce childhood exposure;


ESDO have been campaigning on this issue since 2010 in association with IPEN. With funding support from the European Union and the active involvement of the Bangladesh Paint Manufacturers Association (BPMA), ESDO is confident in achieving the phase out of lead in paint in Bangladesh. Some large manufacturers are already producing lead free paints.

It is hoped that the government will pass legislation and guidelines on this issue in the next 12 months and also make the lead free alternative, zirconium dryer (which must be imported), duty free to support SME’s in their transition to lead free paint.

ESDO campaign activities include:

Sample testing of lead levels in paint and formal reporting
ESDO has conducted extensive research on the levels of lead in paint currently being sold in Bangladesh. Results are formally published in a report and shared with government, paint manufacturers, the media and the international alliance. ESDO also conducts soil and dust wipe sampling on painted surfaces in schools and homes.

Signature Campaign and high level consultation with policy makers
ESDO has collected over 6000 signatures on a petition to be presented to policy makers. The Ministry of Environment and Forest, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Commerce are all supportive and legislation is expected to be enacted by the end of 2014.

Ongoing consultation with paint manufacturers and plant site visits
ESDO has hosted 4 consultations with paint manufacturers in Bangladesh; three for Small and Medium Enterprises and one for Multi National Corporations. All of these consultations were successful and received significant press coverage. ESDO has also visited manufacturers to assess

Mass media coverage
ESDO has been highly successful in obtaining media coverage with over 100 articles and reports in print and online newspapers, radio and television.

Communication and Awareness
• Schools: ESDO conducts regular workshops in schools to raise awareness and understanding of the harmful effects of lead in paint to children.
 Social media: is used as an ongoing effective tool to educate and raise awareness.
 International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action: ESDO celebrates this event annually in association with GAELP, conducting public awareness and policy advocacy activities through media campaigns, rallies, posters, photography exhibition and children’s participation in art competitions.
 Mass-awareness campaigns: ESDO has run these campaigns in Indigenous communities in the North of Bangladesh where face paint is used in religious ceremonies to raise awareness and prevent further harm to children.
• Information, Education and Communication Material: an extensive range of posters, stickers and flyers have been produced to educate and raise awareness.

Lead Free Toys

Different types of children toys in Bangladesh market contain high concentration of toxic heavy metals; the associated chemicals can be the cause of brain damage, learning disabilities, hormone problems, and cancer of the young children. In a new study released by Environment and Social Development Organization–ESDO on December 6, 2013 this information was disclosed. The study also found that due to the lack of regulations and public awareness “Toxic Toys” are rampantly imported and sold in the market. Study report disclosed toxic metals in toys can cause of several irreversible health problems of the children.

According to this study levels of toxic metals in 97% tested toys were significantly above the EU and US recommended ceiling of lead, cadmium, bromine and chromium. The Plastic toys are the most contaminated in “Toxic Toys” category and lead is the highest concentrated metal in different category of toys. Many international brands of toys also contain lead, cadmium and chromium. Local clay and wooden color toys found high concentration of lead and chromium.

Proper disposal of E-waste

-ESDO conducted country situation analysis

– ESDO submitted the E-waste guideline to the relevant ministries of Bangladesh Government

Recognizing the rapidly emerging and serious issue of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) or E-waste management, this guideline on WEEE/ E-waste has been prepared as a guidance document to support WEEE/ E-waste inventorisation and assessment of risks involved. The guideline has been prepared based on data from both primary and secondary sources including field survey, expert opinion, publications from scientific journals, reports, and web sites. E-waste is a term that is used loosely to refer to obsolete, broken, or irreparable electronic devices like televisions, computer central processing units (CPUs), computer monitors (flat screen and cathode ray tubes), laptops, printers, scanners, and associated wiring. E-waste has become a concern in Bangladesh due to the high volumes in which it is generated, the hazardous constituents it often contains (such as lead, mercury, and chromium), and the lack of regulations applicable to its disposal or recycling. Rapid industrialization and lack of proper implementation of anti-pollution laws and regulations have had a detrimental effect on Bangladesh’s natural environment. The high rate of accumulation of e-waste stems not only from the rapid pace of emerging technologies but also from e-waste disposal by developed countries in the form of used electronic equipment with short life-spans. The growth of e-waste has significant economic and social impacts. The increase of electrical and electronic products, consumption rates and higher obsolescence rate leads to higher generation of e-waste. Hazardous and toxic materials from e-wastes and scrap recycling business are polluting the air, soils and water ways. The ineffective management of the country’s e-waste has recently gained significant attention.

Campaign for toxic-free agriculture

  • ESDO had training sessions with the rural communities in the eco-villages run by ESDO on organic agriculture
  • Zero-waste village- This concept has been applied some eco-villages in the northern part of Bangladesh. ESDO trained the village communities on preparing organic fertilizers from organic wastes generated by them. Every household has an individual compost unit there.
  • The village communities are facilitated on the negative impacts of application of pesticides as well.


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