The coronavirus pandemic isn’t the only disease that has crippled the health infrastructure of countries across the globe. A recent study has highlighted that one out of every three children on the planet has dangerous levels of lead in their bloodstream. The reason behind this is the rising lead pollution in the world due to which millions of children are at risk of irreversible mental and physical damage.
UNICEF and Pure Earth (an environmental group), carried out a study to examine the level of lead in the bloodstream of children. They discovered that around 800 million children in the world have lead levels of five micrograms per deciliter or higher in their blood. These levels are high enough to affect the development of the brain and nervous system in children. It can also impair the functioning of vital organs such as the heart, lungs, and liver.
According to the WHO and the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this level of lead in the bloodstream is alarming and calls for action. The organizations also pointed out that inadequate lead battery recycling and open-air smelters are the main reasons behind the rising lead pollution. The report released by UNICEF and Pure Earth said, “The unequivocal conclusion of this research is that children around the world are being poisoned by lead on a massive and previously unrecognized scale.” The report also highlighted other factors leading to lead pollution such as homes with peeling lead paints, lead-laced electronic waste dumps, and food contamination with lead-glazed pottery.
Nearly 85% of worldwide lead production goes into manufacturing lead batteries. These batteries are used for telecommunications, power back-up equipment, and vehicles. The United States of America and Europe are responsible for recycling 95% of lead in the world. This is because developing countries of the world such as India lack the infrastructure to recycle lead batteries and other products. UNICEF and Pure Earth in their report mentioned that if the level of lead in the bloodstream of a child goes undetected for long, it can lead to dire consequences. We hope that countries across the world will take notice of the rising lead pollution and devise a plan to combat it effectively.