african_cookware

Photo: irisglobal.org

A study suggests that immense amounts of lead are being ingested in Africa, since extensive use of cookware made from recycled materials leaks lead into the food. This is the first time the extent of lead poisoning has been assessed. Results suggest that in some instances, as much as 200 times the threshold amount for lead poisoning is being ingested. The health hazards following lead poisoning are numerous, most notably causing cognitive impairment.

Better check that pot

The Ashland University researchers partnered with the Cameroonian NGO Research and Education Centre for Development (CREPD) to assess the damage of makeshift cookware, typically made from  recycled scrap metal; including car and computer parts, cans, and other industrial debris. The team analyzed 29 samples of aluminum cookware made in Cameroon and simulated cooking by boiling a mildly acid solution in each cookware for two hours.

The team found that a typical serving contained almost 200 times more lead than California’s maximum allowable dose level of 0.5 micrograms per day, and if that wasn’t bad enough, traces of aluminium and cadmium were also discovered to leach from the cookware.

“These locally made aluminum pots are the most commonly used in Cameroon and throughout Africa, so the lead levels we found are alarming and a threat to public health,” said Gilbert Kuepouo, Executive Director of CREPD and one of the study’s authors.

“This previously unrecognized lead exposure source has the potential to be of much greater public health significance than lead paint or other well-known sources that are common around the world,” added co-author Perry Gottesfeld.

Lead is a tremendously damaging substance and children are the most vulnerable to it because they’re developing and lead is foremost known for attacking cognitive functions. Studies have repeatedly shown that lead poisoning causes brain damage, impaired cognition, lower educational performance, and a range of other health effects. Perhaps the most famous example of how lead can actually influence a whole society is how crime rates in the US plummeted following lead gasoline ban. It may very well be a correlation fallacy, but truth is atmospheric lead does in fact severely affect cognition and by the looks of it, lead is poisoning a whole continent.

“Unlike some other sources of lead contamination, lead poisoning from cookware can impact entire families over a life-time. Even low-level lead exposures can result in reduced IQ and neurological deficits,” concluded Ashland University’s Jeffrey Weidenhamer.

There are no regulatory standards for lead in cookware but the Globe Wellness Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have determined that there is no safe level of exposure to lead.

“This previously unrecognized lead exposure supply has the possible to be of substantially greater public wellness significance than lead paint or other nicely-known sources that are common about the globe,” mentioned Perry Gottesfeld, executive director of Occupational Expertise International.

Recently performed surveys of lead exposures in Africa and Asia have recommended that blood lead levels have remained stubbornly elevated in spite of the ban on lead in gasoline in most of the planet. “The presence of lead in meals cooked in these pots may perhaps be a single contributing factor to the ongoing lead poisoning epidemic,” Gottesfeld said.

Findings appeared in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

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