Lead poisoning affects children on a massive and previously unknown scale, according to a new report released by UNICEF and the international non-profit organization Pure Earth, with one in three people exceeding their blood levels.
The consequences of lead poisoning in children are so serious that they can impair their mental faculties and even lead to death. This substance is especially dangerous for young children since the amount of lead that is absorbed in their body is many times greater than in adults. However, this problem has not received due attention, especially in developing countries.
The report states that about one in three children, out of 800 million worldwide, have blood lead levels of 5 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dl) or higher. Almost half of these children live in South Asia.
With minor early symptoms, lead silently damages the health and development of children, which can be fatal. Knowing how widespread lead pollution is, and understanding how it harms individual lives and communities should inspire us to take urgent action to protect children once and for all.
Henrietta Faure, UNICEF Executive Director
The reason for this disaster was: the informal and poor-quality disposal of lead-acid batteries. Children living in low- and middle-income countries are particularly vulnerable, which has tripled the number of vehicles since 2000. Other sources of childhood lead exposure include lead in water from lead pipes, lead-based paints and pigments, lead solder in tin cans, and more.
The studies were carried out in Bangladesh, Georgia, Ghana, Indonesia, and Mexico.
Regardless, lead can be safely recycled and lead-contaminated areas can be recovered and rehabilitated, but that has to be done, says Richard Fuller, president of Pure Earth.