According to United Nations estimates, every third child in the world suffers from lead poisoning from air or water pollution. Up to 800 million children around the world are dependent on immediate medical treatment due to a high concentration of lead in their blood, according to a report published on Thursday by the UN children’s aid organization Unicef. It is a “massive and as yet unknown” health crisis.
Lead “tacitly does great damage to the health of children and their development,” as there are usually few symptoms at the beginning of lead poisoning, said Unicef boss Henrietta Fore. Given the knowledge of the widespread use of lead pollution and its health consequences, “urgent action” is necessary “to protect children now and forever”.
Lead can affect people like a nerve poison. Studies have shown that people who were exposed to high levels of lead pollution in their childhood often develop behavioral problems and often experience kidney damage and heart problems throughout their lives. Lead contamination is triggered, among other things, by free-standing melting furnaces, certain colors and petrol systems.
According to the Unicef report, car batteries that are not or poorly recycled are one of the most common causes of lead contamination. Accordingly, the lead concentration in the blood of children in the wealthy countries has dropped significantly in recent years. In poor nations, however, the problem is growing. South Asia is particularly affected.