Lead poisoning came into the spotlight once again as the levels of lead in the tap water in Flint led to a national outcry against the health hazard and highlighted the government’s failure in being able to cope up with the problem. The Flint crisis forced us to dissect the issue and finally open our eyes to the something that has been staring us in the face for decades. Studies say that thousands of Flint children could end up with reduced cognitive functions and other mental disorders due to lead poisoning. And we’re not even scratching the surface. The problem in Flint, as big as it is, is just the beginning. Environmental health experts believe that lead poisoning leads to thousands of deaths each year, and forces thousands more to live reduced lives. To make things worse, this problem exists all around the world, despite the availability of lead replacement solutions for all kinds of applications.
A Civilization Scorned
The EU and the US have taken definitive steps in addressing the issue of lead poisoning by reducing and monitoring the use of lead. However, there are a number of countries that have failed to do anything to protect their citizens, leaving the local populace vulnerable, the future generation scorned. Dr. Philip Landrigan from Mt. Sinai Hospital New York states, “The problem in the US is serious, but it’s overshadowed by the global problem.”
A Case of Pushing Dirt under the Carpet
The world is haunted by all kinds of health and environmental problems today. Pollution, population crisis, limited resources;some of these forces are beyond our control. However, the case with lead is not the same. Scientists know how to deal with lead poisoning and nip it in its bud, and with the availability of high density materials that act as lead alternatives, they also know how to do so without having to spend huge sums of money. However, that doesn’t mean that the officials are willing to spend the money, time or resources to address the issue. The problem with lead poisoning is that it usually tends to affect the lowest sectors of society, and the problems aren’t noticeable immediately, making it easy for those in power to ignore the entire issue.
So Near, Yet So Far
Some countries are serious in their fight against lead poisoning, at least to an extent. However, millions of people around the world still suffer from exposure to lead with no remedies in sight. Medium and low-income countries such as the Philippines, Mexico and India rank among the most exposed countries, and the future certainly looks bleak in these communities.
According to Pure Earth, an anti-pollution NGO, the main culprit, the biggest contributor, the worst offender is car battery recycling. The organization identified as many as 800 sites in developing countries that are dedicated to extracting valuable metals and lead from used car batteries for resale purposes. Since these facilities don’t meet the desired environmental or health standards, lead ends up affecting the workers, the local environment and the surrounding soil, and is in turn ingested by the local population.
Considering the damage lead poisoning can wreak on the human body, you would think that lead is being kept as far away from the kitchen as possible. However, studies also show that many families salvage lead from car batteries inside their homes, in their backyards, to add to the family income. It is so easy to make a couple of dollars by recycling a car battery. It certainly looks like an attractive population. If you’re willing to play with your child’s future and your family’s health, that is.
Another source of lead poisoning is ceramic dishes. SaludPublica, a Mexican health journal, discovered that lead contamination was directly responsible in a reduced average IQ across Mexico’s population.
Not My Problem
The problem is more serious than many would care to admit. In fact, the foundation to leave entire generations struggling to function properly has already been laid down. Think of lead poisoning as an entire society that has trouble processing numbers and learning how to read. It is difficult to imagine the next Darwins, Newtons and Einsteins come from this community, isn’t it. Remember, the future generation will only have to suffer if today’s generation chooses to look the other way when it comes to lead replacements!
A Better Tomorrow?
Lead contamination isn’t the most challenging issue to deal with, but it needs proper commitment. The best way to get rid of lead poisoning is to dig up a huge hole in a remote location, line it up with plastic and dump the lead there. An even better solution is to look at lead alternatives. However, this doesn’t help the thousands already affected by lead poisoning. Studies show that an increase in violent crime in developed society has also been associated with lead poisoning. And the link to lead exposure and cognitive development problems has been highlighted and reinforced for decades.
Governments and lawmakers need to do their bit to eradicate the problem of lead poisoning, but there are a number of things that YOU can do as well. Today, companies such as Ecomass Compounds present non-toxic lead replacements for all kinds of applications that range from vibration dampening, weighting, radiation shielding, ammunition and balancing. It is entirely possible to enjoy the same advantages using high density materials and not have to deal with the downside of using lead, without increasing operating costs.