LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News vol 8 no 1, 2000, ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News ( ISSN 1440-0561)
The Journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.

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Habitat Resolution Calls For Eliminating Leaded Petrol

US Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning (AECLP) Urges Follow-up Action to Take Advantage of this Important Step in the Fight Against Lead Poisoning

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Alliance To End Childhood Lead Poisoning has endorsed the unanimous decision of the United Nations Commission on Human Settlements (Habitat) emphasizing the priority international commitment to reduce and eliminate lead poisoning. During the Commission’s recently concluded 17th session in Nairobi, Kenya, the United States sponsored the resolution, which calls for a concerted effort among the UN system, national governments, and international organizations to expedite action plans for the removal of lead from gasoline and the control of other sources of lead exposure.

"The experience of the U.S. and other countries demonstrates that lead poisoning must be and can be prevented through practicable measures directed at controlling sources of exposure," said David F. Hales, Director of the Global Environment Bureau for the U.S. Agency for International Development and one of the principal authors of the resolution. "The Habitat resolution makes it conclusively clear that an international consensus exists to eliminate this tragic disease, a top worldwide environmental health and sustainable development priority - and there can be no further excuses for delay," Hales added.

"The Habitat resolution is consistent with the Alliance’s integrated, priority-based approach to lead poisoning prevention as set forth in its International Action Plan for Preventing Lead Poisoning," according to K.W. James Rochow, the Alliance’s Director of International Programs. The resolution calls for:

  1. all governments to incorporate leaded-gasoline phase-out initiatives in their national agendas and to manage and control other sources of lead exposure;

  2. all governments to provide publicly accessible information on the progress of phase-out programs using benchmark indicators; and

  3. the international community to work together in the elimination of lead poisoning and to provide technical and financial assistance to developing countries working on phase-out strategies.

"The Alliance now calls on governments and organizations to take immediate steps to implement the phase-out and prevention plans called for in the resolution," Rochow added.

Leaded gasoline remains the most dispersive source of lead exposure and every day of its continued use adds to the reservoir of environmental lead that eventually must be controlled or abated. At the same time, the multitude of other sources of potential poisoning and pollution from the use of lead over the years must also be controlled based on risk posed and efficient opportunity for management and control.

Lead poisoning continues to be one of the world’s most pervasively debilitating diseases. The World Health Organization has found that all urban children in developing countries under two years of age, and more than 80 percent of those between the ages of three and five, are suspected to have blood lead levels exceeding international health standards. Lead exposures can adversely affect everyone, but special populations such as children, pregnant women, and men and women of reproductive age are particularly vulnerable to lead’s harmful effects. Even at very low levels, lead poisoning in children can cause developmental disabilities, hyperactivity, impaired growth, hearing loss, blood diseases, behavior problems, reduced attention span, and decreased productivity. Effects on adults include high blood pressure, kidney disease, and impaired fertility.

"Habitat is a critically important forum for advancing international phase-out and prevention because lead poisoning is a prime obstacle to building sustainable communities," Hales stated; "indeed the dispersion into the environment of an elemental toxic substance such as lead that persists and accumulates over time and that particularly interferes with children’s development - the world’s future - is the very opposite of sustainable development."

"Victory over the long-standing disease of lead poisoning would not only constitute a landmark victory in environmental health, but would also serve as an optimism-engendering model of effective international cooperation for tackling other environmental and sustainable development problems," Rochow concluded.

The AECLP is a non-profit public interest organization dedicated to the worldwide elimination of lead poisoning. For more information, including our Myths and Realities of Phasing Out Leaded Gasoline and International Action Plan, contact:

K.W. James Rochow, Director of International Programs
AECLP, 227 Massachusetts Avenue, NE
Suite 200 Washington, DC 20002 USA
email address
   Phone +1-202-543-1147,  Fax: +1-202-543-4466

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