The Toxic Truth
Children’s Exposure to Lead Pollution Undermines a Generation of Future Potential
Lead poisoning is affecting children on a massive and previously unknown scale, according to a new report launched today by UNICEF and Pure Earth. Childhood lead poisoning should command an urgent international response.
The joint report, The Toxic Truth: Children’s exposure to lead pollution undermines a generation of potential, is an analysis of childhood lead exposure undertaken by the Institute of Health Metrics Evaluation (IHME) and verified with a study approved for publication in Environmental Health Perspectives. It features five country case studies where lead pollution and other toxic heavy metal waste have affected children. These are Kathgora, Bangladesh; Tbilisi, Georgia; Agbogbloshie, Ghana; Pesarean, Indonesia; and Morelos State, Mexico.
This report notes that lead is a potent neurotoxin that causes irreparable harm to children’s brains. It is particularly destructive to babies and children under the age of 5 as it damages their brain before they have had the opportunity to fully develop, causing them lifelong neurological, cognitive and physical impairment. Childhood lead exposure has also been linked to mental health and behavioural problems and an increase in crime and violence. Older children suffer severe consequences, including increased risk of kidney damage and cardiovascular diseases in later life, the report says.
The report is only available in English.