Research conducted by UNICEF has revealed that 60.000 children in the Netherlands have been affected by lead poisoning.
Lead poisoning in the Netherlands
In the report, the Netherlands has a total of 58.886 children in the Netherlands affected by lead poisoning and containing at least five micrograms of lead per decilitre of blood. The leading cause of lead poisoning in the Netherlands is lead water pipes.
In November 2019, the Health Council of the Netherlands warned about the dangers of lead in drinking water. According to the council, it is possible that the IQ of children who grow up in houses with lead pipes decreases by about five points. UNICEF also says lead poisoning can also lead to learning and behavioural problems in children.
Several municipalities have taken action to ban lead piping in existing buildings, as at the moment lead piping is only banned for new builds. Amsterdam, The Hague, Eindhoven, Rotterdam, and Utrecht have all taken steps to replace existing lead pipes, with reaching out to buildings who are suspected to still make use of lead pipes and advising for them to be replaced.
UNICEF lead poisoning research
The research, released on Thursday, July 30, was carried out by UNICEF in collaboration with environmental organisation Pure Earth. Globally, there are 800 million children affected by lead poisoning.
Half of the 800 million children affected are from South Asia. Western Europe and North America are the lowest ranking regions, with 2.5 million and 1.36 million children with at least five micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood respectively.
According to the report, many children around the world are poisoned by the recycling of batteries: "In low- and middle-income countries, vehicle batteries are often opened carelessly, causing acid and lead dust to enter the ground. The recovered lead is also incinerated in open-air ovens, leading to the release of toxic fumes." UNICEF and Pure Earth are advocating for urgent action to be taken to tackle the illegal and unsafe recycling of lead-acid batteries.
Pregnant women, bottle-fed babies, and children under the age of five are groups that are especially at risk if they are exposed to lead for a long period of time.