More than half of India’s urban children have high blood lead levels

An indication of just how severe the lead problem is can be gained from a survey of lead levels in 22,000 people conducted in seven of India's largest cities, reports Asia Environmental Review (ASER).

The study found that more than 50% of children below the age of 12 years in urban environments in India had unacceptable blood levels of 10 mcg/dl or more. Even more disturbingly, nearly 13% of the children below the age of 12 years had seriously elevated blood lead levels of 20 mcg/dl or more.
Given that 100 million children live in India’s cities, this means that more than 50 million children in the country are likely to have unacceptable blood lead levels.

The results of the Indian study were presented at an international conference on lead poisoning prevention and treatment held in Bangalore, India last month. Organised by The George Foundation, and co-sponsored by The World Bank, World Health Organisation (WHO), US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bangalore Conference was attended by 450 delegates from 20 countries.

The main goal of the conference was to develop a model lead poisoning prevention and treatment plan for developing countries. Based on the conference recommendations an expert committee is drafting a ‘white paper’ on appropriate measures which will be submitted to governments and key institutions in the region before the middle of the year.

Contact for the Bangalore conference: Mr Jude Devdas, The George Foundation, Bangalore, Tel: 91 80 5440164; Fax: 91 80 5440210.

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