GS Paper 3:
Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.
Recently, high levels of lead were found in the blood of thousands of children living around the Kabwe mine in Zambia.
How lead affects children?
- Lead is a potent neurotoxin that causes irreparable harm to children’s brains.
- It is particularly destructive to babies and children under the age of 5 as it damages their brain before they have had the opportunity to fully develop, causing them lifelong neurological, cognitive and physical impairment.
- Childhood lead exposure has also been linked to mental health and behavioural problems and an increase in crime and violence.
- Older children suffer severe consequences, including increased risk of kidney damage and cardiovascular diseases in later life.
How it costs countries?
Childhood lead exposure is estimated to cost lower- and middle-income countries almost USD $1 trillion due to lost economic potential of these children over their lifetime.
Factors contributing to lead poisoning:
- Informal and substandard recycling of lead-acid batteries.
- Increase in vehicle ownership, combined with the lack of vehicle battery recycling regulation and infrastructure.
- Workers in dangerous and often illegal recycling operations break open battery cases, spill acid and lead dust in the soil.
- They also smelt the recovered lead in crude, open-air furnaces that emit toxic fumes poisoning the surrounding community.
Need of the hour:
A coordinated and concerted approach across the following areas:
- Proper Monitoring and reporting.
- Prevention and control measures.
- Management, treatment and remediation.
- Public awareness and behaviour change.
- Legislation and policy.
- Global and regional action.
It is clear from evidence compiled that lead poisoning is a much greater threat to the health of children than previously understood. Although much more research needs to be conducted, enough data have recently emerged for decisive action to begin – and it must begin now.
- Lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones. It is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time.
- Lead in bone is released into blood during pregnancy and becomes a source of exposure to the developing foetus.
- WHO has identified lead as 1 of 10 chemicals of major public health concern.
- WHO has joined with the United Nations Environment Programme to form the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint.
Did you know that lead is a naturally occurring toxic metal found in the Earth’s crust?
- 10 chemicals of major public health concern identified by WHO.
- Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint has been launched by?
- Lead is mainly used in?
- Largest primary producers of lead.
- Lead production and consumption in India.
Write a note on lead poisoning and ways to prevent it.
Sources: down to earth.