The Challenge

Lead is a heavy metal, used extensively in industries and objects of everyday use like paint, dyes, cookware, cosmetics. BUT it is extremely toxic to humans, even in trace amounts.

Children are especially vulnerable, ingesting 4-5 times more lead from the same source than adults.

Lead exposure can lead to cognitive impairments in children, which leads to reduced intelligence quotient, reduced attention span and educational attainment as well as increased anti-social behaviour. The neurological and behavioural effects are considered irreversible and permanent.

In adults, lead poisoning causes increased risk of hypertension, cardiovascular issues and kidney damage.

The effects of lead poisoning on young Indians and the next generations are widespread and significant, with the potential to severely affect our demographic dividend.

A 2020 report by UNICEF and Pure Earth claimed 275 million Indian children have a blood lead level (BLL) over 5 µg/dl, i.e. the threshold for intervention identified by WHO. A NITI-Aayog – CSIR-NEERI study reviewed this report and analysed 36 studies from 1970 – 2014. They found that average BLLs in 23 states in India are well above 5 µg/dl.


Fighting Lead Poisoning

i-LEAP, the India – Lead Elimination Action Project, aims to bring together all the relevant stakeholders to fight against lead poisoning in India. While the situation is grim, India has successfully fought against health epidemics like polio and smallpox in the past and we are confident we can do it again.
Explore this website to find out more about how lead affects the body, its sources, our experts, how we plan to fight it as well as all the research on the issue, collated in our research portal.


Sources of Lead Poisoning in India

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    Paint Production

    Paint produced by small and medium enterprises, which hold 36% of the paint market (Toxic Links, 2013)

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    Food grown in lead contaminated soil, water

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    Paint Dust

    Lead-contaminated dust from paint, soil etc.

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    Adulterated spices

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    Acid Battery

    Lead acid battery and e-waste recycling facilities

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    Ceramic plates and other food ware

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    Adulterated traditional medicines

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    Adulterated cosmetics