Of particular concern is the role of lead exposure in the development of intellectual disability in children. Even though there is wide recognition of this problem and many countries have taken action, exposure to lead, particularly in childhood, remains of key concern to health care providers and public health officials worldwide.
During Diwali, many people begin to paint their house to welcome the festival of lights. But the kind of paint you use can also have an effect on your child’s health. It is advisable to avoid paint which contains lead, as it can lead to intellectual disabilities in children and can be harmful to children.
Dr Mahaveer Modi, chest physician from Pune, said, “Lead has no biological function in the body. It accumulates in the body and affects practically all organ systems. Lead exposure can cause chronic and debilitating health impacts in all age groups, but it is particularly harmful to young children. This is because the developing nervous system is vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead, even at levels of exposure that do not cause obvious symptoms and signs.”
“Lead exposure in early childhood can result in reduced cognitive abilities, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder and antisocial behaviour. Lead exposure can also cause hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs,” he added.
Dr Nitin Karmarkar, an environmentalist from Pune, said, “One of the ways to protect yourself and your family from lead exposure is to be a careful consumer. You should try to get informed about sources of lead exposure in your community and avoid buying products that may contain lead.”
He added, “If you are planning to redecorate a building or to renovate painted furniture, and you think the original paint may contain lead, you should get expert advice about safe methods for removing the paint. You should also take care when buying cosmetics and traditional medicines to only buy from a regulated manufacturer, as high levels of lead have been reported in some of these products.”