Iris Zhou, 2013, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Despite heavy censorship, reports of mass incidents of lead poisoning ­steadfastly ­blemish the image of China’s prosperous economic growth. In response to case ­after case of­ elevated blood lead levels, in 2011, China rapidly passed its 12th, 5 Year Plan on the ­remediation of heavy metal pollution and launched a so-called ­”environmental ­protection storm,” ­pressuring provincial governments to keep ­detailed records of ­lead-polluting ­companies and to shut down non-compliant factories. My role at the ­Natural ­Resources Defense Council (NRDC) was to lay the groundwork for NRDC to ­collaborate with ­provincial ­government officials on projects such as the ­remediation of lead polluted soil. To do so, I translated the environmental ­protection 5-Year Plan of ­Yunnan Province and gathered data on the provincial ­distribution of major lead ­polluting ­industries. In order to assist my supervisors in their grant ­applications, I also wrote two ­reports: one on the projected growth of lead miners, smelters, and acid battery manufacturers and another specifically addressing the issue of lead acid battery recycling in China. This internship helped foster my interest in environmental policy, especially in Asia, and I hope to one day return and resume the work I began this summer.