Lead is highly toxic and there is no safe level of exposure. Children are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure. Even at low levels, lead can result in irreversible damage to developing brains and nervous systems. Exposure can come from lead paint, improper processing of electronic waste or even some household items such as contaminated spices, lead pipes and water systems and traditional cosmetics. Important historical exposures such as from leaded petrol are a thing of the past, and 93 countries now have legally binding controls on the production, import and sale of leaded-paint. WHO recommends urgent action to eliminate lead exposure. A crucial first step is raising awareness about the many potential sources of exposure. Our spotlight is fixed on one crucial goal: putting an end to childhood lead poisoning.
Statement by Dr Maria Neira, Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health on the occasion of International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2023.