WHO, Nigeria Fight Lead-poisoning Outbreak

ABUJA, Nigeria, July 8 (UPI) — A U.N. health agency is helping Nigerian officials contain a lead-poisoning outbreak from processing lead-rich ore in gold mining, the United Nations said.

The World Health Organization joined a team that determined more than 100 children in the country’s northern state of Zamfara were suffering from severe lead poisoning, the United Nations said in a release issued Thursday in New York.

Testing found the children had more than 10 times the concentration of lead in their blood than levels associated with impaired neurological development in young children, WHO officials said.

WHO investigators, along with the non-government organization Doctors Without Borders, also found lead concentrations 250 times higher than the limit for residential areas in the United States and France.

Zamfara’s Ministry of Health said several villages may have problems with lead poisoning.

The U.N. agency said there is a strong likelihood that the high rates of convulsions and deaths in young children in the two villages were due to lead poisoning.

It also estimates that more than 2,000 people need chelation therapy to remove the lead from their bodies.

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