13 million Mexican children with high levels of lead in blood

(Photo: Saúl Maldonado)

Study reveals that it is a consequence of the use of traditional ceramics in kitchen utensils.

Mexico City, (October 28, 2021).- In Mexico, 13 million children under 14 years of age have high levels of lead in their blood, which exceed the value indicated by the current Official Mexican Standard, as a consequence of the use of traditional glazed ceramics that are used to cook and serve food in the homes and restaurants, according to the Pure Earth association.

Daniel Estrada, general director in Mexico, pointed out that this problem was detected in 17.4 percent of children between 1 and 4 years of age, that is, about 1,400,000, who suffer from intoxication with levels above 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter, “when in reality there are health effects from 2 micrograms”, and it exceeds what is established in NOM-199-SSA1-2000 that defines the maximum permissible limits for heavy metal.

When presenting the Lead Free Food Alliance initiative, he pointed out that it is “a public health problem” in the country and that it mainly affects children in their cognitive development, and can cause permanent brain damage and loss of intellectual abilities.

In Mexican pottery, he indicated, lead oxide is used, a heavy metal with which pots, bowls, cups, and other clay utensils that have a shiny glaze are made of, in which foods such as mole, rice, are cooked or served. café de olla, pozole, and other traditional dishes.

Estrada explained that clay glazed at high temperatures does not have the lead when it melts at more than 1,200 degrees, but at a lower temperature the body mistakes it for calcium and affects the entire organism.

In a press conference, he explained that this problem has a higher prevalence in the states of Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Tlaxcala, State of Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexico City, Tamaulipas, Aguascalientes, and Morelos. A higher proportion of children with elevated blood lead levels (26 percent or 1 in 4) was identified in the southern regions of Mexico.

According to data from Pure Earth in Mexico, there are between 6,000 and 15,000 potters in the country, of which 99 percent produce lead-glazed pottery.

The director of this organization affirmed that the purpose of the initiative is not to prohibit the use of ancient traditional pottery but to reduce the levels of lead in the blood of Mexicans.

He even proposed four strategies as a solution to this problem, among which it stands out to identify low-income communities that use this type of material to cook or consume their food more than three times a week and to change their pots and pans for lead-free pottery.

It is also proposed to train pottery-producing communities and families to use lead-free materials. Currently, around 52 thousand artisans are producing this type of items.

Source: La Jornada Maya

The Yucatan Times



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