Lead is the most toxic of all environment pollutants, and many children living in metro cities in India are susceptible to lead poisoning.
Although laws and bans in developed countries limit and control the use of lead in various household substances, Indian laws lag far behind in this respect. Lead is the most toxic of all environment pollutants, and many children living in metro cities in India are susceptible to lead poisoning. Increased levels of lead in the blood may lead to anemia, stomach aches, headaches, appetite loss, impaired hearing, lowered IQ levels, and, depending on the degree of lead poisoning, they may also lead to slow growth and a damaged nervous system.
Does my water have lead in it?
The best way to find this out is to get the water tested. Take a bottle of tap water to your nearest laboratory and ask them to check the lead content in it. In countries around the world the normal acceptable level of lead in the water is 15 ppb, or 15 parts per billion. If the lead in your water exceeds this amount, there may be cause for concern. Lead does not naturally occur in water, but is absorbed into water from lead pipes. Local distribution pipes are usually made of concrete or iron, but pipes in the home, lead solders, brass fixtures, all add to increased levels of lead in the water.
One of the most effective ways to avoid using water with a high lead content is to simply let the water run for at least two minute every morning before using it.
Will boiling water reduce the lead content?
No, boiling water will not reduce the content of lead in the water. In fact if water is boiled for too long, more of it evaporates, leading to a higher concentration of lead. Boiling water for one minute is sufficient to kill all germs and bacteria present in the water. So when boiling water, make sure it boils for two minutes at the very most.
Does my child have lead in her blood?
The next time you take your child for a blood test, ask to find out the level of lead in her blood as well. In fact, all small children below the age of 6 should be tested for lead in their blood, because they are the most susceptible. If the level of lead is high, you know that she is in danger of lead poisoning. The closer you live to a lead-heavy industry or polluted main road, the higher the likelihood of there being lead in the air and of your child developing lead poisoning. So if you are in this 'high risk' category, you need to be especially careful to keep your home as free of lead as possible. Here are some ways you can do this:
1. Lead particles settle into dust on the furniture, and your child is likely to inhale this or to swipe her fingers on the dust and put it in her mouth. Prevent this by dusting regularly, even twice a day if required.
2. Think twice before buying cheap junk jewellery for your daughter. Many of these items are made from lead, and children tend to play with longer necklaces and put them in their mouths.
3. Don't use cheap quality paint on the walls. Make sure you use good quality paint and that it doesn't contain lead. Paints containing lead are banned in developed countries, but older houses still have paint with lead, since the ban wasn't effective then.
4. Brightly coloured toys may be painted with lead-based paints, so make sure you buy toys of a reputed brand and that your child doesn't put them in his mouth.
5. Certain aluminum cans contain lead solders. Don't feed them food from these cans.