|HOME | NEWS | REPORT|
|February 9, 1999||
Half the kids in metros may be victims of lead poisoning
A correspondent in Bangalore
Over 50 per cent of children in six Indian cities below the age of 12 have more than the acceptable amount of lead in their blood.
This is the alarming finding of the world's largest-ever -- and India's first -- such study, released on the first day of the three-day international conference on prevention of lead poisoning, organised by The George Foundation, a voluntary non-profit organisation.
Ten micro grams per decilitre is the upper edge of the safe limit.
Bombay tops the list of those affected by lead poisoning in the under 12 age group. It recorded 61.86 per cent, followed by Madras (60.54 per cent), Calcutta (55.78 per cent), Delhi (54.10 per cent) and Bangalore (39.94 per cent).
The results which covered, besides children, pregnant women and adults, including traffic policemen, clearly point to a "dangerous'' situation.
"Clearly, a large number of our children have lower IQ levels and learning disabilities. More importantly, this is irreversible. This is the unfortunate aspect of lead poisoning,'' said Dr T Venkatesh, head of the department of bio-chemistry, St John's medical college hospital, the nodal centre for the study.
"International studies have shown as much as 5.8 decline in IQ levels for every 10 mg/dl increase of lead in blood levels,'' Dr Abraham George, a US-based NRI and trustee of The George Foundation, told reporters.
The study covered a sample of 22,000 (previous studies covered around 2,000), of which 5,932 cases tested positive for more than 35 per cent of zinc (zinc ptotoporphyrin ( ZnPP)), confirming more than 10 mg/dl of lead poisoning. And 1,857 cases tested positive, regardless of the level of zinc.
"When the results of the first and second methods were extrapolated, we came to the conclusion that over 51.40 per cent of the population covered had levels of more than 10 mg/dl. This means, scientifically speaking, unacceptable levels of lead poisoning, '' Dr Venkatesh told Rediff On The NeT.
In the 12 plus age group, more than 40 per cent of the people were affected. Lead content was more than 20 mg/dl in 12.63 per cent of the children in the six cities. And, nearly eight per cent in the 12 plus age group were affected with more than 20 mg/dl of lead.
The study showed that urban children were found to have higher levels of lead compared to their counterparts in the rural areas.
"For those who tested positive in the first method (with zinc ptotoporphyrin or ZnPP), we provided iron tablets. They were anaemic and iron reduces the lead level in the blood. For others we advised better hygiene etc. The outcome of the study was that a majority of the cases were affected by vehicular exhaust fumes,'' Dr Venkatesh said.
Another possible source of lead, particularly in the urban environment, was drinking water because it comes through pipeline. One classic case was that of a family of three, all of whom had elevated lead levels. Two of them were asymptomatic and one had developed acute abdominal pain. It was later found that lead from their electric grinder had coated the grinding plate. But there is a solution. May be, a long term, multi-dimensional one. For instance, as Dr Venkatesh pointed out:
"Pencils need not be painted. Children, for that matter even adults, chew one end of it and take in lead. Lord Ganesha need not be painted. Simple mud Ganeshas will do to avoid lead poisoning.''
SHOPPING HOME | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | HOTEL RESERVATIONS
EDUCATION | PERSONAL HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | FEEDBACK