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QUESTION: Childhood lead poisoning especially lead education prevention programs 11 Mar 2008 Oyo State, Nigeria

I'm a postgraduate student at the Dept of Health Promotion and Education, Faculty of Public Health , College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Oyo State Nigeria . I'm conducting a research topic effects of training intervention on the knowledge, perception and practices relating to childhood lead poisoning among teachers in primary schools in Ido LGA of Oyo State. I found your site very pertinent to my research area and Iím looking forward to getting articles on childhood lead poisoning especially lead education prevention programs. Also I will appreciate it if the research work is sponsored.

Hope to read from you soon‍

ANSWER: 11 Mar 2008

Dear Yomi,

My webmaster emailed me to say that he has added your link to our Education page on and may be some other researchers or lead poisoning prevention program organisers will contact you because of that.

Can you please let me know the purpose of your childhood lead poisoning education program? And how well supported is the program? In my view, the success of any educational intervention regarding childhood lead poisoning is totally dependent on whether the government is taking any real action on the sources of lead in children's environments. For example, our federal government is removing ceiling dust from the ceiling cavities of schools and other government buildings in Sydney (Australia's largest city) in order to prevent young children being exposed to the leaded dust that accumulated from motor vehicle emissions fallout for decades before leaded petrol was banned in 2002.

I understand that leaded petrol has only recently been banned in Nigeria so I wonder what the government is doing to help people to remove the leaded dust from motor vehicle emissions fallout from their homes and gardens? And what services are available for people to have this dust removed from ceiling spaces? In our state, NSW, people can hire a contractor who is a member of the Australian Dust Removalists Association (ADRA) to do this work.

Has the Nigerian government banned the sale of leaded paint for houses? If so, can you tell me when it was banned or what limit was put on the lead level in what year/s?

These government actions should form the basis of any education program about what people can do to prevent childhood lead poisoning. And if the government is not taking enough action, then this is what needs to be stated in the education program, unless doing so will put the educators at risk. As you can tell from my first thoughts above, until I know what the political situation is in the area where you seek to do the educational intervention, I am unable to give you good advice on what the education program should cover. All I know is that the worst type of lead poisoning prevention education, is education that puts all the responsibility for prevention on the people with the least resources to do the prevention. In other words, it is vital that the messages of any education program should NOT say things like:

  • "bad parents have lead poisoned children"
  • "dirty children are the problem"
  • "if you spend money [you don't have] on this problem - you can solve it".

It is important that the messages of an education program are reasonable and actionable by the target audience. I assume that your target audience is teachers of young children (infants schools and primary schools). Can these teachers send messages home to parents? Can the teachers invite a doctor or nurse to the school to test the blood lead levels of children? Can parents ask the doctor for a free blood lead test or does it cost too much?

The most vital basis of any education program is facts. The most important fact for lead poisoning prevention is the answer to the QUESTION: "what is this child's / this pregnant mother's blood lead level?" Following on from the answer to that question is: "will the health department help you if someone in your family has an elevated blood lead level? Is the person also iron-deficient or malnourished? Will lead analysis of soil or paint or toy paint or ceramics or drinking water or dust etc be carried out in order to determine where the person's lead is coming from? What can be done if you have too much lead in your drinking water or soil or peeling paint etc? How can nutrition be improved and how can we make sure each child starts the day with a nutritious breakfast?

Can you tell teachers about successful interventions in other schools? If you could tell me all the facts that you can use in your education program then I might be able to help with formulating specific messages. If on the other hand, the aim of your intervention is to help teachers to be better able to teach children who have already been lead poisoned, then the attached article "The Early Lead Poisoned Child in the Classroom" by Anne Winner  - should be very useful.

I look forward to hearing from you soon and hope I have not burdened you with too many questions!

Yours Sincerely
Elizabeth O'Brien

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