Lead poisoning cases soar 28/10/2014, 03:05:38 PM (GMT+7)

(VNS/VNN)-Health experts say lead poisoning has risen to alarming levels in Viet Nam, especially among children.

Prof. Pham Due from the Bach Mai General Hospital's Poisoning Prevention Centre said that lead poisoning has made a comeback in the country. He said it was caused mainly by the use of traditional medicines, from exposure to paints with lead content, constant proximity to gas stations and industrial waste pollution.

From the beginning of 2013 to date, nearly 84 per cent of 179 children who visited the centre for examination were detected with blood lead concentrations higher than the permitted level of 5 microgram/decilitre. Lead poisoning was found in more than 14 per cent of 618 adults.

The number of lead poisoning cases was even higher between November 2011-November 2012 when the centre found 756 patients with high levels of blood lead concentration, accounting for 30 per cent of the 2,588 patients recorded in 26 provinces and cities.

More than 90 per cent of the lead poisoning cases were of children below 16.

"The number just is a floating part of an iceberg because many cases with slight symptoms haven't been examined further at hospitals," said Due.

Even though there is wide recognition of the problem and many countries have taken remedial actions, exposure to lead, particularly in childhood, remains a key concern among health care providers and public health officials world-wide, he added.

To mark the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Awareness Week (October 19-25), the World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on countries to eliminate lead in paints and other products causing environment pollution.

According to the WHO, lead poisoning is entirely preventable.

Lead exposure is estimated to account for 0.6 per cent of global diseases, with developing regions accounting for most of the cases. Childhood lead exposure is estimated to contribute to about 600,000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities every year.
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