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NAPE joins the rest of the world to commemorate International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action (ILPPWA).

This year's National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week theme is, "Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future," which has focused on the importance of the many ways parents can reduce a child's exposure to lead and prevent its serious health effects.

National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) with support from IPEN is creating awareness about the harmful aspects of Lead in selected schools. NAPE is conducting lectures to pupils in primary schools on Lead and Lead poisoning and the major pathways for exposure to lead poisoning including paints, batteries, lead contaminated toys and lead contaminated dust among others.

It has been observed that children under the age of 6 years old are at an increased risk for lead exposure, due to their rapid rate of growth and their tendency to place toys, their fingers and other objects in their mouths that could be containing lead or leaded dust, and thus are more prone to ingestion of lead paint chips and house dust or soil that may contain lead particles.

Lead is a naturally occurring toxic metal found in the Earth’s crust. It is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children. Its widespread use has resulted in extensive environmental contamination, human exposure and significant public health problems in many parts of the world.

Important sources of environmental contamination include mining, smelting, manufacturing and recycling activities, and, in some countries, the continued use of leaded paint and leaded gasoline.

Lead is particularly dangerous because once it gets into a person's system; it is distributed throughout the body just like helpful minerals such as iron, calcium, and zinc. The body stores lead in the teeth and bones where it accumulates over time.

Lead stored in bone may be remobilized into the blood during pregnancy, thus exposing the fetus. And lead can cause harm wherever it lands in the body. In the bloodstream, for example, it can damage red blood cells and limit their ability to carry oxygen to the organs and tissues that need it, thus causing anemia.

Young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health effects, particularly affecting the development of the brain and nervous system. At high levels of exposure, lead attacks the brain and central nervous system to cause coma, convulsions and even death. Undernourished children are more susceptible to lead because their bodies absorb more lead if other nutrients, such as calcium, are lacking. Children at highest risk are the very young; including the developing fetus, and the impoverished.

Children who survive severe lead poisoning may be left with mental retardation and behavioural disruption. However, at lower levels of exposure it causes no obvious symptoms, and that previously were considered safe, lead is now known to produce a spectrum of injury across multiple body systems.

In particular lead affects children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioural changes such as shortening of attention span and increased antisocial behaviour, and reduced educational attainment. Lead exposure also causes anaemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs. The neurological and behavioural effects of lead are believed to be irreversible

Moreover, children’s innate curiosity and their age-appropriate hand-to-mouth behaviour result in their mouthing and swallowing lead-containing or lead-coated objects, such as contaminated soil or dust and flakes of decaying lead-containing paint. This route of exposure is magnified in children with persistent and compulsive cravings to eat non-food items, who may, for example pick and eat, leaded paint from walls, door frames and furniture. Exposure to lead-contaminated soil and dust resulting from battery recycling may result into massive lead poisoning and multiple deaths in young children.

Lead also causes long-term harm in adults, including increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage. Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of lead can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight, as well as minor malformations.

Lead exposure is estimated to account for 143 000 deaths per year with the highest burden in developing regions. Lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones. It is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time. Human exposure is usually assessed through the measurement of lead in blood. 

There is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe. Even blood lead concentrations as low as 5 µg/dl, once thought to be a “safe level”, may result in decreased intelligence in children, behavioural difficulties and learning problems. But it is known that, as lead exposure increases, the range and severity of symptoms and effects also increases. However, lead poisoning is entirely preventable.

Drinking water delivered through lead pipes or pipes joined with lead solder may contain lead. Much of the lead in global commerce is now obtained from recycling.

Sources and routes of exposure

People can become exposed to lead through occupational and environmental sources. More than three quarters of global lead consumption is for the manufacture of lead-acid batteries for motor vehicles. Lead is, however, also used in many other products, for example pigments, paints, solder, stained glass, crystal vessels, ammunition, ceramic glazes, jewellery and toys. This mainly results from:

  •     Inhalation of lead particles generated by burning materials containing lead, e.g. during smelting, informal recycling, stripping leaded paint and using leaded gasoline; and
  •  Ingestion of lead-contaminated dust, water; from leaded pipes and food; from lead-glazed or lead-soldered containers. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified lead as one of ten chemicals of major public health concern, needing action by Member States to protect the health of workers, children and women of reproductive age.

Women demand mineral fundWomen leaders and miners from Bunyoro and Rwenzori sub-regions have petitioned government to set up a mineral wealth fund through which they can directly benefit from proceeds from the exploitation of minerals.

They made the resolution on Thursday in Hoima Town during the launch of the Action Research on the Impacts of Extractive Industries on women in Africa.
The research was conducted by the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) and Women’s Alliance on Mining (Womin) in selected African countries including Uganda, DR Congo, Burkina Faso, Ghana and South Africa.

The research findings, among others, state that women miners of salt at Lake Katwe work without protective gear and suffer consequences of prolonged exposure to hazardous chemicals. According to the research findings, they have experienced inflammation of the uterus, dehydration and chemically-induced burns.

The National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), Oil Watch Uganda, African Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) and several other environmental groups have rallied to demand delegates to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Parliamentarians and the global community to take urgent and meaningful action on climate change this week in Germany.

The action is part of a global day of action in more than 50 countries calling for a more just and sustainable energy system and for policymakers to end the undue influence and obstruction of climate policy by transnational fossil fuel corporations.

NAPE recognises the challenges associated with climate change adaptation in a poor country like Uganda and the lack of willingness for developed countries to play their role in assisting poor countries to adapt climate change. We have, therefore, decided to resort to empowering communities; through awareness raising, so that they can be able to demand for responsible behaviour from the worlds renowned polluters.

COMMUNITY GREEN RADIO CELEBRATES FIRST ANNIVASARYThe Community Green Radio on Saturday August 1, 2015 celebrated the completion of the 1st year ever since it went on air. The radio, which is one of the programmes of National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), currently broadcasts through affiliation with Liberty FM from Hoima in Western Uganda on 89.0 FM.

The NAPE Executive Director Mr. Frank Muramuzi described the Community Green Radio anniversary as a great day in the history of NAPE and a great day in the partnership between NAPE and the communities in the Albertine Region.
“Though the Community Green Radio was initiated by NAPE, in essence it belongs to the communities. I am happy that in its one year of existence it has indeed turned out to be the voice of the people at the grassroots in the Bunyoro region,” Mr. Muramuzi said.

Government of Uganda has proposed a new NGO Bill 2015 that would grant the internal affairs minister and the National Board for Non-governmental Organisations broad powers to supervise, approve, inspect, and dissolve all nongovernmental organizations and community based organizations, and would impose severe criminal penalties for violations. Among several troubling, broad, and vaguely worded provisions, one article would require all organizations to not engage in any activity which is government demees contrary to the dignity of the people of Uganda.

If this bill is passed in its current form, it will obstruct the ability of all Ugandans to work collectively through local and international organizations on any research or advocacy that may be deemed critical of the government.

Even before the proposed NGO bill is passed into law, government of Uganda has started cracking the thrash on Civil Society Organizations that are critical of government. the Minister of Internal Affairs Gen. Aronda Nyakayirima has threatened to close The Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies (GLISS).