Children under the age of six are more vulnerable to lead poisoning.
Developing children are sensitive to even small amounts of lead, which reduces learning ability, causes brain damage, hyperactive behaviour, neurological problems, attention deficit disorders, major organ failure or even death. Schoolchildren and especially infants, occupationally exposed workers are more susceptible to the effects of absorbed lead.
These concerns were raised at an awareness workshop on prevention of lead poisoning organised here on Friday by the National Referral Centre for Lead Poisoning in India (NRCLPI), Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, St. John’s Medical College and St. John’s College of Nursing on Friday.
Dr K Chandrasekhar, Senior Environmental Coordinator, Occupational Knowledge International/National Referral Centre For Lead Poisoning In India, St John's Medical College talked about the environment and various toxins present in the environment.
In the poorest regions of the world an estimated one in five children will not live to see their fifth birthday, primarily because of environment-related diseases, he said.
Lead poisoning is the most serious environmental health threat to children and one of the most significant contributors to occupational disease, said Dr Chandrashekar. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 120 million people are overexposed to lead (approximately three times the number infected by HIV/AIDS) and 99 percent of the most severely affected are in the developing world.
Dr Geraldine Menezes talked about effects of lead on health which included damage to the brain and nervous system in children up to age 4, impaired growth and IQ, social and behavioural problems, poor hearing and learning difficulties and hyperactive and aggressiveness in children. It also causes loss of libido, infertility, aggressiveness and higher blood pressure, loss of appetite, constipation, anaemia, paralysis, fits, swelling of the brain, seizures, coma and death in adults. In pregnant women and unborn children, pre-term delivery, low birth weight and miscarriage and stillbirth are the problems.