Lead poisoning – silently covering the world

Lead poisoning – silently covering the world

Lead poisoning is a disease of environment, and it is gradually increasing with our lifestyle. Image Courtesy – http://guardian.ng

Lead poisoning is a disease of environment, and it is gradually increasing with our lifestyle, using of new technology and devices as well. It is the most toxic element as far as others are concerned, and it is among the most studied elements as well. There are several documentations on lead poisoning in most of the countries around the world, and it is possible today with the help of modern technology to enhance the limit of detection. Even today we know how harmful it is for human being as it gets into the body. We have to trace the evolution of lead into our atmosphere with discovering health hazards caused by its exposure with the help of cutting edge technology.

Lead is an ordinary element on the earth’s surface. Trace amount of lead generally found normally in soil, plants, and water. As a general phenomenon, lead is basically stable. But, after mining and transforming into various man-made products, many of which are scattered throughout the environment. That is why lead has become highly toxic element. Tragically for individuals, lead has a long natural steadiness and never loses its lethal potential, if ingested. The lead scattered through ‘gasoline exhaust’, ‘smelter emission’, ‘peeling paint’ etc. never completely vanishes from our environments. Even today, most of the countries have not yet developed a decent biological system which could appear as a shield to offer protection from lead poisoning. Global contamination of lead into the environment has evolved in a higher percentage in recent time.

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Environmental health experts are of the opinion that in recent time, it is observed that the problem of lead poisoning is very high in the US, but global contamination is massive. Hundreds of thousands of people are expiring every year due to this toxic element, and many more are suffering with problems of physical hazards. According to health experts, lead poisoning has started into the life of children in US through contamination in tap water. Its adverse effect is found in their life with decreased cognitive function, tendency of violence, decreased intelligence quantity etc.

The US and many countries of Europe have taken some relevant steps to combat lead poisoning for a couple of years, but other countries of the world, especially the developing countries, comparatively failed to take proper steps to save their people. The Dean for global health at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, Dr. Philip John Landrigan, told that the problem of lead poisoning in the US is serious, but in comparison to the global problem, it has been very low. Dr. Philip John Landrigan pioneered the research on health effects of lead, and he has been one of the leading advocates of the world working on children’s health.

Scientists know how to stop lead poisoning and how to take procedures so that it becomes inexpensive for the people and society. But, the problem lies in the different segment. Actually, the local administrative officials are somehow less interested to implement those procedures utilizing their time and money. Lead tends to influence the poorest of poor people and the impacts are not instantly observable. So it is obvious that the policymakers simply ignore the problem. As a result of this kind of indifference, hundreds of thousands of communities suffer from lead poisoning throughout the world with no proper protective venture. People from medium and low-income group in various countries like Mexico, Philippines, India etc. are mostly affected.

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Battery recycling of cars has been pointed out as one of the most notable works for ‘global lead poisoning’, according to a New York based NGO Pure Earth. The organization has recognized 800 destinations in the creating scene that have expansive offices committed to extricating lead and other significant metals from recovered auto batteries for resale. These units are not well equipped to maintain sufficient ecological measures. So, through their process, lead used to enter the encompassing soil and environment where it might be ingested or breathed in by local people. In some cases, unemployed youth rescue lead from cheap car batteries in their own homes or in lawns for utilizing a couple of Euros. Even they do not bother the distance to be maintained between their working place and kitchen.

Another source of lead poisoning is found in ceramic dishes utilized for serving meals every day. Lead is a key part of the coating that covers the ceramic dishes which is absorbed by body cells through ingestion. ‘Salud Publica’, a Mexican publication on health reported that average ‘Intelligence Quantity’ of their country has been decreased by 5 points as a result of this lead contamination. The issue is creating health hazards especially in little groups in states like Puebla, Michoacan, Oaxaca etc. where the level of consciousness is very poor, and local potters have no intention to change their process.

Lead poisoning is very hard to detect initially. Even apparently healthy looking people can have high amount of lead in their blood. The symptoms of lead poisoning usually do not appear to a human being until the amount of lead exceeds well above the danger level.

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Some industries which are prone to lead poisoning are as follows:

‘Lead production’, ‘battery manufacturing or recycling’, ‘brass’, ‘bronze’ and ‘lead’ foundries, ‘metal radiator repair’, ‘scrap metal handling’, ‘recycling of lead-sheathed cables’, ‘lead soldering’, ‘firing ranges’, ‘ceramics manufacturing’, ‘machining or grinding metal alloys containing lead’, ‘plastics manufacturing’ etc.

Construction industries which cause lead exposure:

‘Sanding’, ‘scraping’, ‘burning’, ‘disturbing lead paint’, ‘demolition of old structures’, ‘welding, torch cutting lead-painted metal’, ‘abrasive blasting’,   ‘construction and repair of bridges’, ‘water towers’, ‘tanks’, ‘roofing’, ‘Lead abatement’, ‘painting – both residential and commercial’, ‘renovation or remodelling’, ‘structures built before 1978’, ‘welding on metal structures’ etc.

Symptoms of lead poisoning to newborn babies who had exposure to lead before birth:

Difficulties in learning

Delayed growth

Some symptoms of lead poisoning in children are as follows:

Delay in development

Difficulty to learn


Loss of appetite

Weight of weight

Tiredness and lethargic

Pain in abdomen



Difficulty to perceive sound

Symptoms of lead poisoning in mature persons:

High blood pressure

Pain in abdomen


Joint pain

Pain in muscles

Difficulty in mental function

Anaesthetic feeling of the extremities


Loss of memory

Mood disorders

Decrease of sperm count

Abnormal sperm


This the right time for policymakers to awake from their indifference and introduce a protective measure for the sake of mankind before it is too late.

Shalini Gupta

About Shalini Gupta

Shalini Gupta is a teacher at New Delhi with multifarious talents. She has passion for reading, writing, drawing, sketching etc. simultaneously with her teaching job. presently she is writing for Bigumbrella.

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