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The International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (22 to 28 October 2017)

by Public Health Update

The International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (22 to 28 October 2017)

The International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (ILPPW): From 22 to 28 October 2017 the international lead poisoning prevention week of action will take place, with a particular focus on eliminating lead paint. 
Lead poisoning is preventable, yet the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has estimated that, based on 2015 data, lead exposure accounted for 494 550 deaths and 9.3 million disability adjusted life years (DALYs) due to long-term effects on health, with the highest burden in developing regions. 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. WHO
The International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (ILPPW) raises awareness and promotes actions to address the human health effects of lead exposure, especially for children. During the week, governments, academia, industry and civil society promote efforts to prevent childhood lead poisoning, and specifically laws to eliminate lead in paint.
While many countries have long-established bans on lead paint, it is still legal to sell lead paint for use in
homes, schools and other buildings in more than one third of the world’s countries.
Children living in low- and middle-income countries, where there are few governmental controls on lead, are disproportionately affected.
This year’s ILPPW aims to help individuals, organizations, industry and governments work together to ban lead
from paint.
The ILPPW messages to stakeholders:

  1. Learn the Risks: Find out about the hazards of lead and, in particular, of lead paint.
  2. Educate Your Community: Organize activities to raise awareness and promote action to prevent lead poisoning, particularly in children.
  3. Ban Lead Paint: Encourage your national government to establish a law to eliminate lead from paint, or to ensure the effective enforcement of lead paint regulations.
''Lead paint is a serious threat to the long-term health of our children. Yet lead paint is still on sale in many 
countries and is used to decorate homes and schools. WHO calls on all countries to phase out lead paint by 
2020 to protect the health of this and future generations.
— Dr. Maria Neira, Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health,
 World Health  Organization

Key Messages: 
1. Lead exposure affects human health, especially for children.

  • There is no known safe level of lead exposure. Even low levels of lead exposure may cause lifelong health problems.
  • Lead is toxic to multiple body systems, including the central nervous system and brain, the reproductive
    system, the kidneys, the cardiovascular system, and the blood and immune systems.
  • Lead is especially dangerous to children’s developing brains, and causes reduced intelligence quotient
    (IQ) and attention span, impaired learning ability, and increased risk of behavioural problems. These health impacts also have significant economic costs to countries.

2. Lead paint is an important source of lead exposure.

  • Lead is added to paints to enhance colour, speed drying, or reduce corrosion on metal surfaces.
  • As lead paint ages, it flakes and crumbles, creating leadcontaminated dust. When used in homes, schools, and playgrounds, it can be a source of lead exposure to children, who easily ingest dust by putting their hands in their mouths.
  • It is more cost-effective to ban new lead paint and promote lead-safe alternatives than to remediate contaminated homes, schools and playgrounds.
  • The manufacture of paint without added lead does not involve significant additional cost. Many paint manufacturers have already stopped adding lead to their paints or have committed to do so.

3. We can work together to reduce human health impacts from lead paint.

Source of Info: International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2017 resource pack. Geneva: World Health Organization/United Nations Environment Programme; 2017. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO

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