Lead Poisoning in India

  • IASbaba
  • October 15, 2022
  • 0
Environment & Ecology
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Context: A central government report has found that India bears the world’s highest health and economic burden due to lead poisoning.

Key findings of the report:

  • The report was prepared jointly by government think tank Niti Aayog and the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR).
  • Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh had the highest average blood lead levels (BLL) among Indian states.
  • Some 23 states have an average BLL that goes beyond five microgram per decilitre (μg / dl) — the standard used to gauge poisoning.
  • The statistics are worrying on a national level with the average for the country being 4.9 μg / dl for children less than two years old.
  • The UNICEF report also noted that lead poisoning shaved off an estimated five per cent of Indian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) due to lower economic productivity and reduced lifetime earnings.
  • It also caused 230,000 premature deaths in India.

Details about Lead:

  • Lead is a naturally occurring toxic metal found in the Earth’s crust.
  • Lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones. It is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time.
  • Human exposure is usually assessed through the measurement of lead in blood.
  • Lead in bone is released into blood during pregnancy and becomes a source of exposure to the developing foetus.
  • There is no level of exposure to lead that is known to be without harmful effects.
  • Lead exposure is preventable.

About Lead Poisoning:

  • Lead poisoning or chronic intoxication is caused by the absorption of Lead in the system and is characterised especially by fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, anaemia, a dark line along the gums, and muscle paralysis or weakness of limbs.
  • Children younger than 6 years are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect mental and physical development. At very high levels, lead poisoning can be fatal.
  • Lead exposure also causes anaemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs.
  • More than three quarters of global lead consumption is for the manufacture of lead-acid batteries for motor vehicles.

Sources of lead poisoning:

  • battery recycling,
  • lead mining,
  • smelting,
  • welding,
  • soldering and
  • automobile repatriating
  • adulterated spices, cosmetics and traditional medicines.

Indian Government Initiatives:

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) has passed a notification as “Regulation on Lead contents in Household and Decorative Paints Rules, 2016” and has prohibited manufacture, trade, import as well as export of household and decorative paints containing lead or lead compounds in excess of 90 Parts Per Million (PPM).

Source:  Down To Earth

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Magnetite particles, suspected to cause neurodegenerative problems are generated as environmental pollutants from which of the following?  (2021)

  1. Brakes of motor vehicles
  2. Engines of motor vehicles
  3. Microwave stoves within homes
  4. Power plants
  5. Telephone lines

Select the correct answer using the code given below

  1. 1, 2, 3 and 5only
  2. 1, 2 and 4 only
  3. 3, 4 and 5 only
  4. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Q.2) Lead, ingested or inhaled, is a health hazard. After the addition of lead to petrol has been banned, what still are the sources of lead poisoning? (2012)

  1. Smelting units
  2. Pens and pencils
  3. Paints
  4. Hair oils and cosmetics

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

  1. 1, 2 and 3 only
  2. 1 and 3 only
  3. 2 and 4 only
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4


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