UPSC Courses

DNA banner


  • 20 February, 2023

  • 7 Min Read

Lead poisoning

Lead poisoning

The enormous environmental damage, human exposure, and serious public health issues brought on by the widespread use of lead have affected many regions of the world.

Regarding Lead Poisoning:

  • Lead poisoning, also known as chronic intoxication, is brought on by the body absorbing lead, and symptoms include weakness or paralysis of the muscles, as well as weariness, nausea, diarrhoea, nausea, lack of appetite, anaemia, and a dark line along the gums.
  • Lead poisoning can have a serious negative impact on a child's physical and mental development, and it is particularly dangerous for children under the age of six. Lead poisoning can be lethal at very high concentrations.
  • Anaemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity, and toxicity to the reproductive organs are further effects of lead exposure.
  • The production of lead-acid batteries for automobiles accounts for more than three-quarters of all lead usage worldwide.

What about the burden of lead disease?

  • The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimates that lead exposure resulted in 900,000 fatalities and 21.7 million DALYs (Disability-Adjusted Life Years), or years of healthy living lost, globally in 2019.
  • The weight of the problem was greatest in low- and middle-income nations.

What was the reaction of the world?

WHO's Response:

  • One of the ten substances with the greatest potential to harm human health is lead, according to the World Health Organization.
  • Also, WHO is a participant in the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which supports the implementation of mandatory lead paint regulations in at least 40 nations.
  • The GEF is a catalyst for the environment as well as other things. It was created on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.
  • The Global Partnership to Reduce Lead Paint has been established by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme.
  • Lead paint is still a problem in a lot of nations.

India's Response:

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MOEFCC) issued a notification titled "Regulation on Lead Contents in Household and Decorative Paints Rules, 2016," which prohibits the manufacture, trade, import, and export of household and decorative paints containing lead or lead compounds in excess of 90 parts per million (PPM).

What Consequences Can Lead Poisoning Have?

High Blood Lead Levels:

  • In India, 50% of children report having excessive blood lead levels, according to a 2020 research from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Pure Earth.
  • According to the report, 275 million children in India have blood lead levels that are more than the acceptable range of 5 g/dL.
  • Among these, the blood lead levels of 64.3 million kids are more than 10 g/dL.
  • About 23 states have average blood lead levels over the 5 g/dL limit; the levels in the 13 other states and Union Territories cannot be estimated because there aren't enough studies or screening methods to gather data.

Disability-Adjusted Life Years:

  • A 2016 study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) found that lead exposure causes 165,000 annual deaths and 4.6 million Disability-Adjusted Life Years (the amount of years lost due to disease burden).
  • IHME is a university of washington school of medicine-affiliated independent centre for population health research.

Negative effects on health:

  • Lead enters the bloodstream and travels straight to the brain, especially in young infants.
  • During pregnancy, it can be passed on to the foetus, which can result in low birth weight and sluggish growth. Lead poisoning can impair the neurological, skeletal, and neuromuscular systems and result in anaemia and other disorders in both children and adults.

What are the difficulties in managing lead poisoning?

  • Less Attention: Compared to other possible public health issues, lead receives less attention in India.
  • Systems to check populations for potential exposure are lacking in India. There are around 48 national referral centres for lead projects in India where blood lead levels can be checked; however, non-profit organisations typically conduct screening on a volunteer basis or at health fairs.
  • Ineffective recycling laws: There aren't many strict rules regulating the informal recycling industries in many developing nations, like India and underdeveloped nations.
  • As a result, massive amounts of (lead)-acid batteries are retrieved in an unregulated and uncontrolled manner without the use of scientific methodologies.
  • The Batteries (Management and Handling) Regulations of 2001 governed the management of lead-acid batteries. But, there hasn't been enough enforcement to guarantee secure and environmentally responsible recycling.
  • The Battery Waste Management Regulations, 2022 were announced by the government in 2022, although it is unclear whether they would be put into effect.
  • Strong demand for inexpensive goods: In India, many inexpensive products contain lead, and consumers might not be able or ready to spend more for lead-free alternatives.

Way Forward

  • Restricting unauthorized activity and regulating the industry will be beneficial because recycling used lead-acid batteries runs the risk of exposure.
  • The government should provide facilities for blood lead level screenings at every district hospital and increase India's testing capacity for blood lead levels.
  • A discussion of India's health situation must include lead poisoning.

Source: National Health portal

Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana

Recently, Prime Minister announced Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana under which 1 crore households will get rooftop solar power systems. India’s Status of Current Solar Capacity India currently stands at 4th place globally in solar power capacity. As per Ministry of New an

Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA)- NGO 

The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (FCRA) registration of two prominent non-governmental organisations (NGOs) — Centre for Policy Research (CPR) and World Vision India (WVI) have been cancelled this month. What is FCRA? Key provisions of FCRA, 2010 Key aspects Description

Voice clone-AI

Voice clone fraud has been on the rise in India. AI voice cloning – It is the process of creating a synthetic replica of a person’s voice through machine learning and speech synthesis technology.It is called as voice deepfakesor audio deepfakes. Objective – To achieve a high level of na

Science communication- how to promote

Steps taken by India to promote Science Communication Publications and Information Directorate (PID) - An organisation under Council of Science and Industrial Research (CSIR) established in 1951 for publishing and disseminating scientific information in India. National science magazines- The PI

Universal Basic Income (UBI)- Analysis

Universal Basic Income (UBI) can strengthen welfare architecture and unlock the nation’s latent demographic potential. UBI - It is an income support mechanism typically intended to reach all or a very large portion of the population regardless of their earnings or employment status. Objective- To provide enough to co


Search By Date

Newsletter Subscription
SMS Alerts

Important Links

UPSC GS Mains Crash Course - RAW Prelims Answer Key 2024