Nepal | August 09, 2020

Lead exposure affecting schoolchildren’s growth

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, May 25

Although some of the more reputable schools use lead-free paint in their buildings and classrooms, a majority of schools in the Kathmandu Valley have been found using bright colours, which contain high amount of lead, to paint the classrooms, ignoring their adverse impact on the health of students.

Lead is a silent killer and is taking a heavy toll on children. Lead paint may be found in home, on toys, furniture and on otherobjects. Decaying lead paint on walls and furniture creates contaminated dust that children easily ingest.

According to a study conducted by Leaders Nepal, most of the paints manufactured in Nepal and imported from various other countries like India, China, the United States, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Austria contain high amount of lead and children are at a higher risk of lead poisoning.

Its symptoms are too subtle to be noticed and by the time parents realise something is wrong, the damage is already done.

“Mostly, Montessori schools use bright colours to attract students but they themselves are unaware of the harmful effects of lead,” said Dhiraj Pokhrel, general secretary of the LEADERS Nepal, adding,“It causes headache, irritability, abdominal pain, vomiting, anemia, weight loss, hearing loss, noticeable learning difficulty, slow speech development and hyperactivity.”

Higher exposure to lead damages the brain and central nervous system to cause coma, convulsions and even death. Children who survive poisoning are often left with intellectual impairment.

The use of paints containing lead should be avoided, says professor at the University of California, Amod Pokhrel.

A version of this article appears in print on May 26, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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