Tue | Mar 20, 2018

Guard young against lead poisoning

Published:Tuesday | June 6, 2017 | 12:00 AM


We are all at risk of being poisoned by lead. However, our most vulnerable in the society, our children, are at greater risk of being exposed and affected by lead poisoning. Disturbingly, in many instances, our children are not adequately supervised and they are left to explore, touch and taste all that they come into contact with, including lead-coated objects. Once lead enters the body, it is distributed to organs such as the brain, kidneys, liver and bones.

Many Jamaicans have a tendency to believe environmental matters are only issues that affect First-World societies. We cannot underscore the responsibility of adults to safeguard the health and well-being of our children. Exposure to lead can have extremely serious consequences on the health of our children. At high levels of exposure, lead attacks the brain, and central nervous system.

As a society, we need to revisit the recycling and disposal of waste, in particular the burning of waste, which releases dioxins and several heavy metals in the air. In many cases, our response to these critical areas of recycling and waste disposal puts us at unnecessary risk to exposure to lead.

Developing societies tend to ignore environmental matters for the sake of economic expansion and investment. However, we must realise that an unhealthy population will not be able to enjoy the successes of economic growth. More research on the long-term impact of lead exposure from the local medical community is urgently needed, especially in light in the growing number of Jamaican children who are now being diagnosed with behavioural difficulties and learning challenges.

We need to raise the awareness of exposure to lead poisoning to highlight its dangerous and often irreversible effects.