Lead Poisoning Threatens Women’s and Children’s Health
By Khushnood Nabizada - Wed Nov 07 2012, 7:55 pm
By: Ahmad Masoud
The highly polluted air in Kabul has increased the chance of lead poisoning, especially among children and women. According to a report by one of the United Nations agencies, most of the fuels used in Afghanistan did not comply with international standard and contained from 0.6-0.7 gram lead per liter.
Meanwhile, the results of a study, which was carried out by Afghanistan’s National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) and the Ministry of Public Health in 2009, indicated that 80 percent of blood taken randomly from 200 residents of Kabul contained lead.
Experts believe that a drastic increase in the number of vehicles in Kabul and widespread public complaints about the quality of fuels, used in Afghanistan, has raised the fear of lead poisoning in the country, especially in Kabul.
The lead is released into the air during the incineration process and leads to serious health problems including but not limited to kidney failure, lung cancer, heart diseases, general weaknesses and severe permanent physical and mental developments of the children.
According to one of the eight consumers’ rights protection principles, it is everyone’s right to live and work in an environment that does not damage his health. Meanwhile, it is the responsibility of a consumer to make such a choice which minimizes the environment impact of his purchase on others.
“Exposure to lead causes serious long-lasting health complications including learning and behavioral problems and poorer intelligence in young children. Lead can be passed to a developing fetus if a pregnant woman has a high level of lead in her blood and children born with high level of lead in their blood may suffer development and cognitive problems due to prenatal exposure,” said Dr. Ahmad Javed, a prominent doctor in the country.
“The public, the government, the media and the civil society organizations should work shoulder to shoulder for creating such a healthy environment where people understand their legal consumers’ rights and responsibilities, the government ensures the quality of the public and private services, goods and commodities and the media and civil society organizations give direction to both the public and the government,” he added.
The level of understanding of lead poisoning in the country is generally very limited and the majority of the people do not know its health implications, causes and prevention. Lead can get in body through many ways including breathing in lead dust and lead contaminated air, putting hands or other objects covered with lead in the mouth or eating paint chips.
The results of scientific researches indicate that lead poisoning in children can cause nervous system and kidney damage, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, and deceased intelligence, speech, language and behavior problems, poor muscle coordination and decreased muscle and bone growth as well as hearing damage.
In adults lead can cause an increased chance of illness during pregnancy, harm to fetus, including brain damage or death, fertility problems in men and women, high blood pressure, digestive problems, nerve disorder, memory and concentration problems and muscle and joint pain.
It is the responsibility of the government and national and international organizations to jointly work along with the public to eliminate the causes of lead poisoning; raise the level of understanding of people of lead poisoning and take steps towards creating a healthy environment for the people, especially the women and children, to live a healthy life.
In order to highlight the menace of lead poisoning, Consumers Rights and Services Organization (CRSO), which is a national organization registered with the Ministry of Economy in Kabul, recently conducted a training on lead poisoning, its causes and prevention and consumers’ rights protection in Kabul.
The training, which was designed for the media outlets, volunteers and employees of governmental and non-governmental organizations, gave the participants a clear understanding of health complications of lead poisoning and the need for joint efforts to make the public aware of the hazardous impacts of lead and enable them protect them and their children from lead poisoning.