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ISEE Call for Action for Global Control of Lead Exposure to Eliminate Lead Poisoning

Article published in Epidemiology

Wednesday, September 23th, 2015

ISEE Call for Action for Global Control of Lead Exposure to Eliminate Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning is one of the most pervasive, well-established, and preventable environmental hazards worldwide. We in the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) add, therefore, our voices to the call for a concerted global effort to eliminate lead poisoning.

Lead poisoning is pandemic. Globally, there are an estimated 674,000 deaths annually attributed to lead exposure, including many from cardiovascular diseases, and 600,000 cases of intellectual disability among children. Moreover, there is substantial evidence that childhood lead exposure elevates the risk of behavioral problems, like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and antisocial behaviors. Lead is an established risk factor for hypertension and chronic renal failure, and a potential risk factor for cognitive decline in adults. Lead is an endocrine disruptor that may delay sexual maturation in children. Lead is a risk factor for spontaneous abortion, fetal death, and reduced birth weight. There is no safe level of lead exposure.

ISEE specifically calls for:

1. The governments of all nations to:

a. Ban the manufacture, import, and export of lead-containing fuels, paints, plumbing fixtures, and plastics;

b. Vigorously explore replacements for the lead content, wherever possible, in other consumer and commercial products;

c. Implement, to the greatest extent feasible, effective procedures to reduce occupational exposure to lead and its compounds, especially in mining, manufacturing, and construction;

d. Implement, to the greatest extent feasible, effective procedures to reduce emissions from smelters and lead battery manufacturing and recycling facilities;

e. Implement regulations for safely recycling used batteries containing lead and for preventing the illegal dumping of lead-containing materials and products;

f. Implement, to the greatest extent feasible, programs to identify and remediate lead contaminated public and residential areas, and surveillance programs to identify heavily exposed individuals, populations, new sources of lead exposure, and trends in lead exposure;

g. Investigate and reduce lead exposures from contamination of food and from hazardous waste sites;

h. Increase the training of health professionals in the identification and prevention of lead poisoning;

i. Ratify and implement the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal.

2. The governments of countries with high-quality blood analytical capacity to provide assistance (expertise, material resources, and training) to other countries in developing this capacity.

3. The elimination of lead poisoning to be included in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, with indicators and targets set accordingly.

4. Professional organizations to support the efforts of international organizations working for lead poisoning prevention and, in particular, to encourage their members to contribute to the efforts of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint.2

5. WHO and UNEP to take a lead in coordinating and assisting the efforts of all countries in implementation of the above actions.

Complete paper in EPIDEMIOLOGY

Epidemiology: September 2015 - Volume 26 - Issue 5 - p 774–777 doi: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000352. From The ISEE


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