UNICEF: Lead poisoning affects 60,000 children in Netherlands

A third of children worldwide have lead poisoning, according to a study by UNICEF and environmental organization Pure Earth. In the Netherlands, 60 thousand children are affected by lead poisoning, which could lead to learning and behavioral problems, and lower intelligence, according to UNICEF, NU.nl reports.

In the Netherlands, lead poisoning mainly comes from lead water pipes. In November, the Health Council also warned about the dangers of lead in drinking water, calling it plausible that the IQ of children who grow up in homes with lead pipes decreases by around 5 points. 

Lead poisoning is when there is at least 5 micrograms of lead in the blood. Pregnant women, bottle fed babies, and children under the age of five are especially at risk when exposed to lead for a long time.

Half fo the 800 million poisoned children worldwide are from South Asia, according to UNICEF. Lead levels are also high in Georgia, Indonesia, Ghana, and Mexico. 

A main cause of lead poisoning worldwide is the careless recycling of batteries, according to the researchers. "In low- and middle-income countries, vehicle batteries are often opened carelessly, causing acid and lead dust to enter the ground," UNICEF said. "The recovered lead is also incinerated in open air ovens, leading to the release of toxic fumes."

UNICEF an Pure Earth called for urgent measures to tackle the illegal and unsafe recycling of lead acid batteries.