This is an interesting piece that I came across from Journal Watch worth sharing: MMWR details a case of lead poisoning in an infant of Nigerian descent who wore traditional eye makeup called tiro. The CDC is advising clinicians to look for cosmetic use in immigrant children with elevated lead levels.At his 6-month checkup, the infant had a blood lead level of 13 μg/dL, over twice the CDC’s reference value of 5 μg/dL. An investigation found that tiro, which was 83% lead, had been applied to the infant’s eyelids three or four times a week since he was 2 weeks old. It was said to improve attractiveness and promote healthy vision. Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants may use similar lead-containing products, for example, surma, kajal, and kohl. Accordingly, in the event of unexplained high blood lead levels, the CDC says, clinicians may want to consider cosmetics and folk remedies as a possible source.
I read this from the VOA and would like to share it with my blog visitors:
It was on late Thursday in Zamfara State, Nigeria, a fuel tanker overturned in a road accident and poured its entire contents into a nearby river, potentially impacting the drinking water of millions of people in Zamfara and neighboring Sokoto state. Officials say they currently don’t have the expertise or the equipment to clean up the oil and prevent another health disaster. Nigeria’s Zamfara state is also known for being the site of the worst lead poisoning outbreak in modern history, which is an ongoing crisis.
When Mouktar Lugga, the environment commissioner for Zamfara State, arrived on the scene of the fuel spill Friday morning, he saw about ten men standing nearby. They were artisanal gold miners, a mainstay of the local economy. But with 33,000 liters of industrial fuel in the river they couldn’t go to work.
Lugga says the tanker accident the previous night left oil slicks the size of two football fields on the river. He says Zamfara has neither the equipment nor the knowledge to clean up the spill and he is hoping the federal government will send technical experts to devise a clean-up plan.
I came across this news piece on Zamfara Lead Poisoning and would like to share it with readers to serve as an update:
A lead poisoning epidemic in Nigeria’s north that has killed 400 children and affected thousands is the worst in modern history, but clean-up has not even begun in many areas, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.
“Thousands of children in northern Nigeria need immediate medical treatment and dozens of villages remain contaminated two years into the worst lead poisoning epidemic in modern history,” the US-based group said in a statement.
The group reiterated a previous official death toll of 400 children, with the poisoning having been caused by illegal gold mining in villages in northern Zamfara state.
Clean-up efforts have taken place in some areas and charities such as MSF have been treating victims, but more urgent work needs to be undertaken to address the problem, Human Rights Watch said.
It said that “environmental clean-up efforts have not even begun in numerous affected villages.”
“Research by Human Rights Watch in Zamfara in late 2011 found that children are exposed to this lead dust when they process ore in the mines, when their miner relatives return home covered with lead dust, and when the lead-filled ore is manually or mechanically crushed at home,” it said.
“Children can also be exposed to toxic lead in contaminated water and food.”
The extent of the poisoning began to come to light some two years ago.
Local communities had initially largely concealed or denied the fatalities and illnesses from lead poisoning for fear that authorities would ban their mining activities, an MSF official has said.
Illicit gold mining is more lucrative than agriculture for the impoverished farming communities.
Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.
As I was reading this interesting piece, what crossed my mind was Zamfara lead poisoning. It was reported that a panel of experts urges US government to lower the threshold for lead poisoning in children. This is in view of the fact that if the current threshold is maintained, developing brain of those exposed to lead could suffer which means lower IQ. This is a job well done for the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and the CDC of the US as the present lower level of 10 micrograms of lead per decilitre of blood would be downgraded to 5 micrograms. This lower level currently impact on about 450,000 children in the US but several millions in developing countries (eg Nigeria).
I was wondering if Zamfara issue is still receiving the right attention from the Nigeria government.
I strongly believe that there are so many unreported cases of lead poisoning in other parts of Nigeria. I also believe that with what we saw in Zamfara, some of the unexplained causes of childhood mortality and morbidity (convulsions, renal disorders, behavioural and hearing disorders etc) in Nigeria are not unrelated to lead poisoning.
I should commend W.H.O, US CDC, MSF and other International NGOs too numerous to mention for their tireless efforts on curbing the menace in Zamfara. If not because of their untiring support and commitment to issue of Zamafara lead poisoning, Nigerian Government alone would have thrown the issue long ago into the dustbin.
Interesting…….I thought the issue of lead poisoning in high income economies of the world is now a thing of the past. I read this morning that due to the presence of lead in aviation fuel, new research has shown that thousands who resides within 1 kilometre of an airport have increase risk of lead poisoning. Does it mean that international policy banning use of lead in fuel (for economic gains) doesn’t cover the aviation industries? Read more here………
Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.
I was going through some subscribed articles on my Blackberry handset then came across this interesting piece captioned: “Lead Poisoning in China: The Hidden Scourge”. The fist thing that came to my mind was the Zamfara State Lead poisoning saga in Nigeria which I analysed earlier in one of my postings on this blog.
This incidence occurred in MENGXI village in China which harboured a battery factory (Zhejiang Haijiu Battery Factory). The factory manufactures lead acid battery for use by motorcycles and electric bikes.
Interestingly, the factory in its 6th year of operation in the area (providing jobs and other source of livelihood to the populace), flagrantly violated environmental regulations and polluted the environment without the knowledge of the locals. This became overt last March, when a Medical doctor told the father of a 3 year-old (an employee of the factory who lived just across the road from the plant) that his daughter had absorbed enough lead that could harm her nervous system and irreversibly diminish her intellectual capacity.
The news had spread further that workers from that factory and other villagers alike had been poisoned by lead emissions from the factory, a development that pushed the locals to take laws into their hands.
It is important to mention that in China and especially in recent months, there were similar instances where the local governments authorities tried to cover up the messes of similar lead industries. This is often as a result of pursuit of dividends of economic development by the local officials thus overlooking environmental contamination, worker safety and dangers to public health.
It is as a result of this recent development that the Human Rights Watch released a report last Wednesday which stated that some local officials have reacted to mass poisonings by arbitrarily limiting lead testing, withholding and possibly manipulating test results, denying proper treatment to children and adults and trying to silence parents and activists.
In comparison to more developed nations where lead pollution has been tightly regulated for decades, this and similar incidences of lead poisonings in China, would for sure be deemed a public-health emergency.
Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.
This is an update on the lead poisoning in Zamfara which I read earlier today.
The environmental health disaster that was apparently contained is about resurfacing again. A report was released by the UN Environmental Protection earlier today which it referred the crisis as: “a neglected, underfunded emergency”. The UNEP and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released the report which says officials of the UNEP conducted field research in September and October 2010 and found that the 5 villages that were decontaminated before rains arrived some well water contained 10 times the recommended limit of lead, the soil had as much as 150 times the limit of lead and air samples contained as much as 500 times the acceptable limit. They also pointed other concerns that include livestock ingesting contaminated water and vegetables which are subsequently consumed by the locals.
There is a need for government at both Federal, State and Local levels to join heads with the UNEP, WHO, CDC and other International agencies to avert this looming disaster once more.
Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.
In this 21st century of technological, medical and scientific advancement, mass lead poisoning is supposed to be a tragedy of the 19th and not the 21st century. In Nigeria, the story is completely different considering the massive lead poisoning which occurred early 2010 in Zamfara state, an arid poor region of north-western Nigeria.
I would like to briefly discuss the source, exposure pathways and adverse health effects of lead before reviewing the issue of lead poisoning in Zamfara.
Lead is a toxic heavy metal and occurs naturally in the earth’s crust. Its uses include car batteries, as pigments in paints, dyes, ceramic glazes, pesticides, ammunition, pipes, cable covers, use with other metals to make alloys, metal products (solder and pipes), sheets to protect people from X-ray radiation and until now added to gasoline to increase octane ratings.
Lead often enters the environment either through releases in the course of mining or recycling of lead and lead compounds. It can as well be released into the air by burning coal, oil or lead containing waste.
Exposure pathways could be through inhalation, ingestion (water, plants, animals), mother to child while in-utero, breast milk or skin (in low concentration).
Lead poisoning could either be acute or chronic depending on the amount, duration and route of exposure. The adverse health implications include: convulsions, neurological damage, impaired IQ, anaemia, neuromuscular disorders, and chronic headaches, cognitive defects, memory loss, infertility, miscarriages, teratogenic effects and hypertension.
Lead could be tested in water contamination using commercially available kits. Analysis of lead in whole blood is the most common and accurate method of assessing lead exposure in humans. The acceptable level of lead in the system by the CDC Atlanta, USA is 10µg/dL.
Zamfara is a poor state blessed with abundant mineral resources. It has enormous gold and lead deposits but unfortunately illegal mining has taken over the proceeds which is suppose to go into the state government’s treasury. This illegal mining, in which women make up more than 60 percent of the miners (thus their contact with contaminants affects the whole family), has great environmental consequences eg destruction of farmlands and distortion of the livelihood of agrarian communities.
In a recent report released by the UK International Development Department, it states that “Income and gender inequality are very high and some states in northern Nigeria have among the worst maternal mortality and girls’ primary school enrolment rates in the world.” Nigeria is sub-Sahara’s second largest economy, but ranked 154 out of 179 countries in the 2008 Human Development Index. It is also estimated that 72 million people live on less than a dollar a day.
It all started when villagers rushing for gold unwittingly freed lead particles from rocks using their bare hands thus polluting the environment with lead particles. This resulted in the contamination of soils and communal water supplies eg streams and ponds. The area of contamination with lead was far larger than originally estimated and heavy rain spreading the toxic lead. It has been shown that lead poisoning has killed at least 400 children within 2010 but the toll may not yet be fully counted considering the fact that some deaths are not reported to authorities, a typical attitude of villagers in a third world setting. The lead poisoning remained until when officials started looking into the cause of high mortality of children which initially the locals attributed to malaria. It was in March-April 2010 when Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) informed the Zamfara state Ministry of Health of an increasing number of childhood deaths and illness in villages in the area. The Zamfara health authorities informed the Federal Ministry of Health, who then sought the assistance of the country office of the World Health Organization (WHO), MSF and the United States Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in investigating this outbreak. Also, the Blacksmith Institute sent a team from Terra Graphics Environmental Engineering Inc to conduct an environmental assessment.
Since the lead poisoning incidence was reported, it has been estimated that at least 10,000 people of which 2,000 children under 5 years of age are in acute danger of death or severe illness from seven villages. It was in June same year when Medecins Sans Frontires, in collaboration with the Federal and State Ministries of Health, WHO and Centre for Disease Control (CDC), started providing emergency treatment for children especially the under 5s who are the most vulnerable group.
In one of his writings, Joseph Amon of the Human Rights Watch says “The tragedy unfolding in Zamfara is not a simple act of nature. Rather, it’s the latest testament to the Nigerian government’s failure to make the health of its citizens a priority”. It is true to also say that considering its riches, impressive economic record in the comity of nations and its status as one of the top 10 world’s biggest producers of oil and gas, Nigeria has the worst public health indicators when compared with especially its African neighbours.
Nigeria’s health care is often underfunded and mismanaged leaving the local health care worst affected, another reason why outbreaks of any sort would easily progress to the point of killing hundreds of children before health authorities could step in.
Conclusively, it is my view that tragedies of this type could be avoided in future by increase in Government’s investment in Public health care, increasing transparency in governance and putting necessary mechanisms in place to counter corruption with a view to ensuring that Nigeria’s natural resource wealth is well protected for the good of all.
Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.