Lead poisoning kills over 400 infants in Nigeria

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - 15:43

Abuja: Lead poisoning linked with illegal
mining has claimed lives of more than 400 infants while over 500 persons were admitted in hospitals in a northern Nigerian
state since November, a government agency said Tuesday.

According to Nigeria`s National Emergency Management
Agency (NEMA), "over 400 kids have died and 500 persons
admitted in hospitals in Zamfara State following an outbreak
of lead poisoning."

"The immature body system of children exposed to
contaminated soils and gold processing tools tends to rapidly
absorb associated lead and in the process poisoning then
leading to convulsion, paralysis and even death," said
Muhammad Sani-Sidi, Director General of the NEMA.

Sani-Sidi was speaking at a National Workshop on the
`Mitigation of the Risk of Lead poisoning Associated with Gold
Mining and Processing among Rural Communities in Zamfara
State`.

June last year, a senior health official disclosed for the first time that 163 persons died due to inhalation of lead substances emanating from illegal mines.
Henry Akpan, the chief epidemiologist at the Oil-rich
African country`s Ministry of Health, said some residents of
northern state of Zamfara became victims of poisoning after
commencing some illegal mining operations in the area sometime
in March.

According to the ministry, most of the victims were
children mostly those who played in contaminated water flowing
near the illegal mining sites.

"The children played near the leaching process or took
part in it, swallowing the lead by inhaling it or putting
their contaminated hands in their mouths," he had said.
During a yearly immunisation exercise carried out by
health officials in the area, it was discovered that there
were almost no children in the villages of Zamfara but the
adults mistook their sudden death to Malaria which is a common
ailment in the country.

Investigation by health officials revealed that an
abnormally large amount of lead was circulating in the
villagers` bodies which led to the discovery of why the death
rate is high.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - 15:43

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