African Lead Mine Poisons Children
By Ben Barber, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
From the screaming children being tested for lead in this African city, to the clouds of toxic dust blown across soccer fields, streets and courtyards, this is one of the world’s worst lead poisoning epidemics.
The lowest blood lead levels in nearly 300 children we tested in July were around 35 micrograms per deciliter — six times above the acceptable level in the United States.
Many children tested above the limit of the electronic lead-testing machine we brought from the United States. These children should be treated in a hospital. But in Kabwe, toxic pollution has been a hidden legacy of mining and smelting lead.
This is not a story of numbers. It is a story of reduced intellect, neurological damage, inability to learn, stomach ailments and other problems.
“This is a public health crisis,” said Professor Jack Caravanos of the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College in New York, who led an investigating team in July that tested children’s blood and soil levels in Kabwe.
In crowded local clinics packed with anxious mothers and screaming children, his team found lead levels as much as 10 times above what is permissible in the United States.
“These are extraordinarily high levels not seen anywhere in the U.S. — this poses an immediate threat to child health,” said Caravanos, whose team was organized by the New York-based environmental group Blacksmith Institute, also known as Pure Earth.
“This is not fenced off — it is right in front of their house where they play every day.” Read more