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The Toxic Truth: Children’s Exposure to Lead Pollution Undermines a Generation of Future Potential

Lead poisoning is a much greater threat to the health of children than previously understood reveals this new analysis released by the UNICEF today. According this 1 in 3 children – up to approximately 800 million globally – have blood lead levels at or above 5 micrograms per decilitre (µg/dL) and India accounts for over 34 per cent of these.

According to ground-breaking new analysis and research, around 1 in 3 children – up to approximately 800 million globally – have blood lead levels at or above 5 micrograms per decilitre (µg/dL), a level that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have determined is cause for action and which the World Health Organization says may be associated with decreased intelligence in children, behavioural difficulties and learning problems. Research on lead has been undertaken and compiled over many decades by UN Agencies such as the World Health Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Children’s Fund, as well as non-governmental organizations and research organizations such as Pure Earth, Human Rights Watch, the US National Institutes of Health, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, and numerous universities. Most of these children impacted by lead live in Africa and Asia, but many are also affected in Central and South America and Eastern Europe. While blood lead levels have declined dramatically in high-income countries since the phase-out of leaded gasoline and in some places lead-based paint, blood lead levels for children and adults in low- and middle-income countries and in pockets in high-income countries continue to be dangerously high.

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