Lead contamination has become a matter of public interest in the recent since it has caused overwhelming devastation to human life. Lead is a chemical element with symbol Pb and is used in making batteries, creating alloys, making radiation shields among others. Its ingestion in mammals causes neuro damage and nervous damage.
In Kenya lead poisoning has been duly noted in Uhuru Owino slums in the coast region and Ol Kalau , Rift Valley. This is as a result of a legacy historical contamination from industrial sites and former industrial sites that surround the affected regions. Children are more susceptible to lead poisoning than adults. They are at increased risk of exposure to lead because they:
I. Are exposed to lead throughout pregnancy
II. Eat, drink and breath more per unit of body weight
III. They have an innate curiosity to explore their worlds
IV. Are more likely to have nutritional deficiencies
V. They spend more time at a single environment
WHO estimates that roughly 12 million children are affected by lead in third world countries including Kenya. This remains a problem since occupational lead poisoning has not been adequately addressed in our country. Lead poisoning has no particular symptoms but has the following effects: attacks on the brain, central nervous system ,coma ,convolutions and even death. It leads to loss of cognition, short of attention span, alteration disorder ,hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs. (Most of these effects are permanent)
In solving lead poisoning, there ought to be awareness creation to the people that are most likely to be affected. Most of the people reporting lead poisoning from Owino Uhuru slums did not even know that lead contamination from the nearby battery factory was what was affecting them and deteriorating their health .Through creation of such awareness the affected persons may find ways to relocate to safer places with their children. However, poverty may be an undermining factor since many who reside there may lack the sufficient funds to move and relocate.
The government should also ensure that factories that have potential in contribution to lead contamination take the necessary steps in their waste disposal methods and also take stun regulatory action to the sprouting of such industries.
These children struck by poverty need support in getting medical assistance to treat lead poisoning. They require Chelation therapy where medication is provided which binds with lead and excretes it via urine. Such medication is very expensive and therefore inaccessible to poor affected individuals in Owino Uhuru and Ol Kalau.