Vietnam offers free treatment to 378 kids found with lead poisoning

By Thanh Tri, Thanh Nien News

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A file photo shows Dong Mai villagers recycling lead from used batteries. These facilities have been relocated outside the village but lead pollution remains in the northern village. Photo: Ha An A file photo shows Dong Mai villagers recycling lead from used batteries. These facilities have been relocated outside the village but lead pollution remains in the northern village. Photo: Ha An

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The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has pledged to offer free treatment for 378 children in a northern village who were diagnosed with lead poisoning.
“In mid-December, the children will be treated with Pectin complex made in Ukraine,” said the agency director Doan Ngoc Hai.
“This is the first batch of drug treating lead and heavy metal poisoning imported into Vietnam.”
Earlier, health authorities have diagnosed hundreds of children at Dong Mai Village in Hung Yen Province with lead poisoning.
Tests in mid-2015 found serious lead contamination in air, water, soil and crops at the village, with the highest levels of more than 1,000 times the level deemed safe being found in surface water.
Local residents of the village, about 27 km (17 miles) east of Hanoi, began to recycle lead from used batteries in the 1970s.
More than 400 households have been involved in the business and most of them have been relocated to a nearby industrial zone in recent years.
According to Hung Yen Health Department, the last 13 households involving the business has been relocated out of the village.
“However, lead pollution remains at alarming levels,” the department director Nguyen Van Dong said.
The provincial authorities said they are facing financial difficulty for removing garbage out of a dumped site in the village.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children. Lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones and is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time.
Globally, lead exposure is estimated to account for 143,000 deaths per year with the highest burden in developing regions.
Childhood lead exposure is estimated to contribute to about 600,000 new cases of children developing intellectual disabilities every year, according to WHO.

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