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What is Lead poisoning?

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 28, Mar 2022
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Reference News:-

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?

  1. Lead is a potent neurotoxin that causes irreparable harm to children’s brains.
  2. 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.
  3. Childhood lead exposure has also been linked to mental health and behavioural problems and an increase in crime and violence.
  4. 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:

  1. Informal and substandard recycling of lead-acid batteries.
  2. Increase in vehicle ownership, combined with the lack of vehicle battery recycling regulation and infrastructure.
  3. Workers in dangerous and often illegal recycling operations break open battery cases, spill acid and lead dust in the soil.
  4. 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:

  1. Proper Monitoring and reporting.
  2. Prevention and control measures.
  3. Management, treatment and remediation.
  4. Public awareness and behaviour change.
  5. Legislation and policy.
  6. 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.