Need to create awareness about lead poisoning, says health secretary
New Delhi: Presence of lead in cheap cookware, traditional medicines and in cosmetics is a problem and there is still a significant lack of awareness of this problem at the highest levels, health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said on Tuesday.
Addressing a roundtable convened here by the Center for Global Development, in partnership with Pahle India Foundation, Pure Earth, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and UNICEF, Bhushan further said there is need to build awareness of lead poisoning into the network of 160,000 Ayushman Bharat health and wellness clinics operating in India.
Also, speaking at the event, former NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said lead poisoning is a serious threat to India’s health, education, environment, and economic growth.
Center for Global Development’s senior fellow Rachel Silverman Bonnifield said around the world, the silent scourge of lead poisoning is stealing children’s potential while driving the growing burden of cardiovascular disease.
Lead is a pernicious poison that causes extensive harm, even at low levels. Lead exposure in early childhood interferes with normal cognitive development, causing lifelong learning deficits and behavioral problems.
In adults, lead exposure causes hypertension and steeply increases the risk of heart attacks.
Yet despite the historic global phase out of leaded petrol, an estimated one in three children around the world are still affected by lead poisoning, including about half of Indian children.