December 15, 1999

Press Release

A Call for Action on the Prevention and Treatment of Lead Poisoning in India

Recommendations on National Policy and Implementation
Primary sponsors of the conference from Left to right: Dr.H. Falk(CDC), Mr. W. Nitze(USEPA),
Dr. A. George(TGF), Mr. K. Alam Khan(Governer),
Dr. Y.Schrinding(WHO), Admiral O.S Dawson(TGF)
& Mr. R. Ackermann(World Bank)

New Delhi: Recommendations on national policy and implementation for the prevention of lead poisoning in India were submitted today in a "White Paper" to the Union Ministers for Health and Environment by The George Foundation, a non-profit trust in Bangalore, which had recently completed an extensive blood screening study in several major Indian cities. The presentation was made by representatives from the World Bank, World Health Organization, and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with The George Foundation.

Lead poisoning is a major environmental disease affecting over 100 million people in India, especially children, pregnant women and occupational workers. In a recent study conducted by The George Foundation in seven major Indian cities, it was determined that over 50% of the children below the age of 12 are experiencing elevated levels of lead in their blood, well above the "acceptable" limit of 10 mcg/dL. Several studies have clearly established that lead poisoning causes neurological damage as reflected in a decrease in IQ and learning ability in children. Significantly elevated levels of blood lead can cause damage to systems and organs such as the heart, kidneys, liver and central nervous system.

The "White Paper" calls on the government to implement effective preventive measures on a national scale. The government is urged to force changes in long standing practices in industry and public services -- such as eliminating leaded gasoline, testing for lead in water supply, milk, food and other consumer products, and regulating lead in industrial emissions. The proposal outlines an implementation strategy that would result in reducing lead poisoning to acceptable levels within a 15 year timeframe, with most of the significant gains made in the initial 5 years.

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Jude Devdas 
Chief Operating Officer 
The George Foundation 
# 210, 5th 'A' Cross HRBR Extn.
3rd Block, Kalyananagar Post
Bangalore 560 043
Tel: 080-5440164/5444170
Fax: 080-5440210

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