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  • Context (TH): Parts of Odisha witnessed lead poisoning.
  • Lead is a bluish-white lustrous metal naturally found in the Earth’s crust.
  • It is also found in small amounts in air, soil and water.
  • It is very soft, highly malleable, ductile, and a relatively poor conductor of electricity compared to copper, gold, etc.
  • Native lead is rare in nature. Currently, lead is usually found in ore with zinc, silver and copper and it is extracted together with these metals.
  • It has a relatively low melting point compared to most metals.
  • It has good resistance to corrosion, especially in non-acidic environments.
  • It is the most dense (non-radioactive) common metal, which makes it invaluable for applications requiring high weight with small volumes.

Sources of Lead Pollution

  • Informal and substandard recycling of lead-acid batteries: Lack of vehicle battery recycling regulation in low and middle-income countries has resulted in nearly half of lead-acid batteries being unsafely recycled in the informal economy.
  • Lead in water from the use of leaded pipes, lead from active industry (such as mining), lead-based paint and pigments, and leaded gasoline.
  • Lead solder in food cans, as well as in spices, cosmetics, Ayurveda medicines, toys, and other consumer products.

Impacts of Lead Exposure

  • Exposure to lead causes lead poisoning, also known as Plumbism and Saturism.
  • WHO has identified lead as 1 of the 10 chemicals of major public health concern.
  • Other unwanted effects:
    • Disruption of the biosynthesis of haemoglobin and anaemia
    • A rise in blood pressure
    • Kidney damage
    • Disruption of nervous systems
    • Brain damage
    • Declined fertility of men through sperm damage
    • Diminished learning abilities of children
    • Behavioural disruptions in children, such as aggression, impulsive behavior, and hyperactivity
  • Long-term impact: Anaemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity, and toxicity to the reproductive organs.

Harmful impacts of lead

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