Laboratory Equipment for testing toxic metals handed over to the National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health for studying of lead exposure sources
TBILISI, Georgia, 20 July 2020. Atomic Absorption Spectrometer – laboratory equipment that can be used for determining concentrations of different chemical elements (such as lead, cadmium or arsenic) in various specimens (e.g. blood, water, different kinds of food, etc.) was delivered to the National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC) today.
The laboratory equipment was procured by UNICEF Georgia with financial support from USAID and the Estonia Development Cooperation and will be used to study lead exposure sources and pathways. The procured equipment will be installed in NCDC and used for the study of lead exposure sources and pathways in Georgia, as well as for other environmental health purposes.
The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey published last year, collected over 1,570 venous blood samples from children aged 2-7 years. In Georgia, 41 per cent of children were found to have blood lead levels equal to or greater than 5 μg/dL - about ten times higher than the prevalence found in developed countries.
The third phase of our response has already begun - the development and implementation of a national response plan.
“Lead causes irreparable harm to the brain. It is particularly destructive to babies and children under the age of five whose brains are damaged before they’ve had the opportunity to fully develop, leading to lifelong neurological, cognitive and physical impairment,” said Dr. Ghassan Khalil, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “UNICEF together with the Estonian Embassy and USAID has been closely working with the Government in addressing elevated lead levels in children’ blood. After diagnosing the problem, we have supported the Government in searching for the sources and pathways of lead contamination, building a laboratory capacity making it possible to test toxic metals in blood and other specimens locally. The third phase of our response has already begun - the development and implementation of a national response plan.”
Earlier in April, four XRF analyzers – special portable handheld devices which allow testing toxic metal content in different kinds of specimens were delivered to the National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health. Due to COVID-19 related disruptions, the fieldwork of studying the sources of lead exposure has been postponed and will be undertaken as soon as the situation stabilizes.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/georgia/