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At least 28 Nigerian children killed by lead poisoning from gold mining

Published by MAC on 2015-05-17
Source: World Bulletin, International Business Times (2015-05-12)

At least 28 young children have died from lead poisoning in a part of Nigeria where at least four hundred died following a similar disaster five years ago.

The cause now - as then - was ascribed to illegal gold mining. See: Children in Nigeria continue dying from lead poisoning

Last Friday, Nigerian newspaper, The Daily Star quoted Medecins sans Frontieres as saying it had cured half of those infected in the earlier outbreak and had started closing clinics set up for the purpose.

Twenty eight kids killed by lead poisoning from gold mining in Nigeria

The Daily Star

15 May 2015

LAGOS, Nigeria: Nigerian health officials say 28 children have been killed by lead poisoning from illegal gold mining in a remote west-central village. Dozens more are sick.

The outbreak is in the same region where doctors still are treating children from a 2010 mass poisoning in Zamfara state that killed 400 kids and left many paralyzed and blind because of delays in government funding for a cleanup.

Doctors Without Borders said Friday it has cured half the 5,500 infected there and has started closing clinics.

Junior Health Minister Fidelis Nwankwo said Thursday all those newly infected in neighboring Niger state are under 5 with a 43 percent fatality rate. He says they have started treatment.

It's not known when a clean-up is planned. Villagers also have to learn safe mining practices.


28 Nigeria children killed by lead poisoning

Minister of State for Health, Fidelis Nwankwo, said at a news briefing, at least 28 children have been confirmed dead in the outbreak of lead poisoning.

World Bulletin

14 May 2015

At least 28 children have been confirmed dead in the outbreak of lead poisoning from what the government calls "illegal mining activities" in central Nigeria's Niger state.

"The lead poisoning was confirmed and it is confirmed that most of the people affected are children below the age of five," Minister of State for Health, Fidelis Nwankwo, said at a news briefing.

"The affected children were found to have high serum lead levels of between 171.5 – 224ug Pb/dl (the normal level is less than 10ug Pb/dl).

He said this level was 17-22 times higher than acceptable limits as established by the World Health Organization.

"The rapid assessment ... revealed that as of May 12, 2015, 65 cases and 28 deaths had occurred, giving a case fatality rate of 43 per cent," Nwankwo said.

"All the 28 cases were children below the age of five," he added, noting that the cases included 17 girls and 11 boys.

Nwankwo went on to say that the poisoning has also had a "serious impact" on livestock in the area, especially cows, goats and chickens.

"The devastating impact of this outbreak is associated with new mining sites, which were found to contain more leaded ores, which are often brought home for crushing and processing," the minister said.

This is the second major lead poisoning outbreak in Nigeria since 2011.


Nigeria Lead Poisoning 2015: Outbreak Kills 28 Young Children In Niger State, Spreads To Kaduna

By Morgan Winsor

international business times

14 May 2015

An outbreak of lead poisoning in Nigeria has killed 28 young children in Niger state, health officials told local media Wednesday. At least 65 cases were identified in Niger state, where the poisoning was linked to illegal mining. Although lead poisoning is not contagious, officials expressed concern that the affects had already spread into neighboring Kaduna state.

As of Tuesday, 17 girls and 11 boys all under the age of five have died from lead poisoning and more sick children are being treated. Farm animals were also affected by the lead poisoning outbreak, junior health minister Fidelis Nwankwo said Wednesday.

“The devastating impact of this outbreak is associated with new mining sites, which were found to contain more leaded ores, which are often brought home for crushing and processing,” Nwankwo told reporters during a press conference in Abuja. “Additionally, the finding revealed a serious impact on our livestock with cows, goats and chicken most affected.”

Illegal gold mining is a lucrative business for impoverished locals, who have concealed or denied fatalities and sickness from lead poisoning in fear of consequences. Local who bring rocks inside their homes and use unsafe mining techniques to process gold ore are at risk for lead exposure. Lead poisoning cannot be spread from person-to-person, but lead-containing particles can be transported and thus inhaled or ingested by more people.

“[The outbreak] is currently spreading to neighboring localities in the state and Kaduna state,” Nwankwo added.

Lead poisoning has killed hundreds of Nigerian children in recent years. In 2010, at least 400 children died and some 2,000 others affected from lead poisoning in Zamfara. The outbreak was caused by the processing of lead-containing gold ore in the northwestern state and lead contamination was identified in about 50 villages. The dangerous mining practice produced fine particles that contaminated water and food crops and were easily consumed by young children, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

“When inhaled or ingested, lead can cause damage to the brain, kidneys, bone marrow and other body systems in young children,” the CDC said in a report last year.

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