Category Archives: HEALTH

About alternative medicine, ayurveda, accupressure, exercise, yoga, home remedies

3 New year resolutions for people with arthritis

Every year we take new year resolution to give up a bad habit or to begin a good  one. This years theme for World Arthritis Day on October 12th was “It is in your hand, take action” to live life to the fullest. Most of the people with arthritis, whom I know, put in lots of efforts so that they can keep in pace with the demands of the world and live life like normal human being. The excruciating pain, fatigue and disability are some of the hindrance for a arthritis patient. Some succumb to the condition, while other turn all the obstacles into opportunity. If those suffering from arthritis take some new year resolutions to improve their lifestyle then they too can live their life to the fullest.

Arthritis is becoming quite common in Delhi, especially after the yearly outbreaks of Chikungunya virus.  People experience joint pain and difficulty to walk even a few months after they had Chikkungunya. Now a days, if you stagger, people inquire if you were suffering from Chikkungunya.

There is lot of commonality between Chikkungunya and Arthritis pain, and in some cases Arthritis pain and deformation are triggered after a Chikungunya attack.  People of any age can get arthritis, but if you take some precautions you can avoid worsening of the  condition. If you chart out a healthy lifestyle pattern for yourself, some of the damages get repaired and you can enjoy a normal lifestyle.

Most of the arthritis patients I meet have come up with their own creative methods to mitigate the pain. Some rely on allopathic medicines, others on Ayurveda and some on herbal remedies. They now know which food causes pain and which one relieves pain.

On this New Year, those suffering from arthritis should take the New year resolutions to live life to the fullest. Here are a few, new year resolutions, ideas based on the experience of those arthritis patients who have overcome all odds by following a healthy lifestyle:

Eat the right Food

Preferably follow a vegetarian diet, which is easier to digest. Some fishes are good, but egg and meat are better not to be consumed regularly. Have lots of water especially on an empty stomach.

And sometimes it is good to fast. Most religions have fasting period in the religious calendar. If you follow the fasting with discipline that will help relieve the pain. If you have never fasted in your life, then consult a doctor before fasting. Arthritis is an auto-immune disease where the body cells are attacking one another. Experts say that  during fasting period the body cells get time to relax and repair.

Walking and Exercise

Of all the medicines, walking is the best prescription for arthritis. Some say that they walk instead of driving or riding a scooter. But that is not enough. Every day you must walk atleast 20 minutes, as part of fitness regime. Consult your doctor to find out how much time is recommended for your walking and exercise. Also find out if you are permitted to Jog. Walking is the best medicine for arthritis. If you walk atleast 5 days a week, you can maintain a healthy lifestyle. When you feel pain, doing exercise will mitigate the pain.

Meditation and Spirituality

Mental and spiritual well being is a crucial aspect of arthritis. The condition aggravates when one is mentally disturbed. Hence you should spend atleast an hour every day for Meditation. You must find the inner peace and the soul connect. Many patients with RA positive,and some even chronically bed ridden, claim to have been miraculously cured because of their belief in God. Some doctors recommend meditation  for an hour daily. Being at peace with oneself and avoiding stress helps in coping with arthritis.

 

 

Visit to an old age home

The population of the elderly is increasing, and so is the number of Old Age Homes. Recently I met Stanley Johnson who runs John’s Daycare and Boarding for Senior Citizens, where elders stay, who suffer from various Geriatric ailments. On a holiday I decided to visit John’s Home, in Aya Nagar, Delhi, to know more about how an old age home works and to meet the elderly. I visited the home with my family, assuming that the kids will have a new experience rather than visiting some tourist destinations.

In the lush green lawns, of the quiet haven, of John’s Senior Citizens Home, the elderly Aunts and Uncles were sitting on the benches and enjoying the cool breeze and evening sunlight. Inside the home, there was pin drop silence, and a handsome Uncle was sitting in the reception, busily scribbling something in a note book.

Mr. Stanley said that the Uncle got mentally disturbed after he suffered a huge loss in business. After coming to John’s Old Age Home he was put on medication, and now he has recovered. He does not speak much but reads voraciously, and he is also the library in-charge.

Apart from the neatly and hygienically kept rooms, which are provided to the elders, there are also common recreation and dining areas. The clean and odorless surrounding of the Old Age Home is different from the rooms of elderly at our homes, which will usually smell of medicines and human waste. “The ultimate goal of our institution”, says Mr. Stanley, “is to ensure that the elders who are with us are happy and live with dignity in a safe clean environment.”

Stanley says that the care required by the elderly are of three different types: Some are fully depended so they require complete assistance in all their activities (Dependent Ageing), some are partially depended (Assisted Ageing) and other can manage their daily routines on their own (Active Ageing). “Some normal problems of the elders are loneliness due to loss of the spouse, weak eye sight, disability in walking and another movement, self-denial, loss of Memory, paralysis, Dementia, Alzheimer, Parkinson, Blood Pressure, Diabetic, Cardiac problems and Bed sores.”

We met some of the elders, and the aunties talked more and socialized. Some of them were wealthy, some abandoned and others suffered cruelty and treachery from their relatives. Because of their willingness to talk and share their feelings, I made a video which is shared below.

The elders are given round the clock individual attention by care givers, Nursing Staff, Supervisors etc. every senior is served in a different manner as per the need of the inmate, For Eg: Arthritics patient is dealt in the softest manner of lifting and placing for food /toilet habits.   Many of the elders here are affected by dementia, Alzheimer’s,  partially paralyzed, physically handicapped,  completely bedridden or suffering from loss of memory, sight and with a negative attitude to the life.

Dementia or Alzheimer’s require full-time nursing as the patients lose their memory and they are to be treated like new born babies. The care takers require a lot of patience and training to attend to an Alzheimer patients needs. John’s Home is known for the care they give to such patients.  A 78-year-old Aunty, a Keralite, who is there for the past eight years, thinks that she has come there only a few days ago. She claims she is from a Royal family in Kerala.  Stanley says “There was a mentally imbalanced upset aunty who now gets an audience to hear her sad stories and sings beautifully for the school children who visit her often”.

The Nonagenarian, Aunty, stole our heart. She is 99 and will be celebrating her 100th Birthday very soon. She is a vivacious and elegant lady who was a teacher in Nainital and Dehradun in her hey days. She is never satisfied with the care she receives/received anywhere, and she demands more care. Care for here means – someone to listen to her endlessly. She is been at Johns home for the past many months and surely enjoys her stay there. At the ripe old age, she was punctually out in the lawn after tea for her evening walk, accompanied by her attendee.

Stanley says “Once there was an unhappy Grand Father who doubted and complained about everyone in his own home.  He was made the Supervisor of the floor and he had no complaints as he saw himself as a captain and is very happy and felt that this home was better placed than his previous home”.

The vision of John’s home is to ensure that the solace provided by them helps every elder staying at the home forget their past sorrows and live joyfully with a smiling face. Their future goal is to have their own home along with a Geriatric division giving Age care facilities to accommodate at least hundred Senior citizens.

“At John’s, we have been constantly working as a team on spreading awareness about the need to uplift senior citizens and help them thru their disabilities as age catches by and thus working on the human cause of uplifting social awareness. Taking our endeavors forward, this year we have crossed boundaries, serving the society is great Pleasure. Our life is incomplete till we add meaning to it.”

John’s Old Age Home provides social services to the community, especially the underprivileged by organizing medical camps in coordination with different hospitals at our center on timely intervals.

When asked why and how your team decided for serving the Seniors he explained that amongst our members there was a feeling that we could have done much more for our parents who have left this universe and that prompted us to do something and dedicate our remaining time, energy and money for caring for elders. The similar kind of feeling is shared by every child with aging parents – even after taking care of them at home, or give them complete medical attention, after their death, children ask the same question ‘Did I do as much as I should have done’. Whatever may be the reason for being sent to such homes, Old age homes like John’s Home provide complete care, attention, and love, which gives happiness to the elders in their old age.

Mission of John’s Old Age Home

  • Encourage each and every one to share and gain!
  • Generating awareness for a disease free society is our moral and ethical responsibility.
  • We always tend to impart education on preventive aspects of healthcare along with suggestive measures to build a healthy environment leading to a healthy society.
  • Our work is a way of telling the people among whom we operate that we care. Responsibility towards our community remains an integral part of most of our endeavors.

How can We help in the care of the Elderly?

  • As a Coherent community let us bring about the cultural leap of helping people. Helping someone is equivalent to praying to God.
  • Let us all come together to help and support people for their better and healthy life.
  • Everybody should be as encouraged to volunteer their time and skills and enjoy the experience of giving back to the community in which they work.

Good news about rheumatoid arthritis

Two years back I spent a month in an ayurveda hospital to recuperate from the side-effects of an accident. While lying in the hospital I saw many patients of different age groups suffering from various forms of arthritis. Since I was undergoing ayurveda massage the only activity  I could do was to browse the net on my little mobile phone.

I read many online articles by medical practitioners and patients about the causes, symptoms and treatments for arthritis. There were many stories by arthritis patients about how they lived with the condition. Just like when you read the symptoms of any mental disease and you feel like you too got the mental disease, after reading about the symptoms of various forms of arthritis I felt I got one or all forms of arthritis. After reading the life stories of some arthritis patients, I imagined myself with a walking stick after few years. Then the doctor advised me to stop reading.

After returning to Delhi, I met rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients surviving on pain Killers and they felt doomed.  One even described arthritis as a ‘dirty disease’. The online articles about arthritis and the experience of the patients in Delhi were similar. They all felt the same way;

  • There is not cure for arthritis
  • One day you are going to be bed bound
  • The doctors only prescribe pain killer, which has side-effect

And so I concluded that there is no use in taking medicines for arthritis, and all you can do is learn to live with arthritis.

After two years when I went to Kerala last month, I met a few young rheumatoid arthritis patients in their early thirties who were mostly detected with the disease only after they fell paralysed. I found positivity in their and their care takers attitudes. The patients lead a normal life while still continuing with the medical treatment. Rewinding memories to my days in the hospital I remember meeting patients and hearing stories of recovery and how Ayurveda helped them stays active.

I saw some videos of interviews by ayurveda and allopathic doctors in Kerala who claim that if arthritis is detected at an early stage, the disease can be cured and that in the last two decades many medicines have been discovered to cure arthritis.  What I understand is that the people in Kerala approach arthritis not as a deadly disease but as a lifestyle disease like diabetes or cholesterol, which can be kept in control. There is no fear or phobia about the disease.

Delhi and the western countries, from where most of the articles on arthritis originates, are developed place, where people lead a fast life and so they follow only the allopathy treatment. Kerala is the land of Ayurveda, where even the Keralite diaspora living in different parts of the world rely on Ayurveda for many ailments – especially medications post delivery.  Nowadays some keralite patients combine ayurveda and allopathy, or allopathy and homeopathy etc.

  • Maybe there is a difference in the way Keralites deal with pain and deformity.
  • Maybe the lifestyle in Kerala helps them deal with the disease is a better manner.
  • Maybe the authors of articles online are those with acute arthritis.

I could sense that the approach to arthritis was different in both part of the world, so an interaction between patients on two sides of the globe will provide new hope for arthritis patients.

For a healthy adulthood parents must ensure kids get enough Nutrition for growth

Mother has a 75 year old helper called Bhavani Amma. I remember Bhavani Amma for her peculiar diet, or ‘strict diet’, that baffles everyone. Before telling about her diet I would like to explain her background.

Bhavani Amma spent her childhood on the shores of backwaters in Allappuzha which is famous for the paddy fields and fresh fish. She grew up on a diet of nature fresh rice and fresh-caught fish curry. In her twenties she was married off and she came to settle in our part of Allappuzha . Fish caught from the backwaters, rivers and sea reaches our village only after 8 to 10 hour. Bhawani Amma is choosy, she eats only fresh-caught fish with soft bones. Which means most of the days she had frugal diet. Bhawani Amma doesn’t consume chicken and in case non-veg is cooked in her home, she will survive on tea, from a nearby tea-shop, (chaya-vellam as we call in Kerala prepared from 1 portion milk and 2 portion water) for the next two days.

She has a concave stomach hollow like a shallow frying pan. My mother used to worry that Bhawani Ammani will one day starve to death because of her stubborn diet.

Last year Bhawani Amma slipped and fell; and as it is common among elderly we thought she was going to be bed-ridden for the rest of her life. To our surprise the doctor said that she had a minor injury and she will recover soon because of all the calcium she had accumulated in her younger days.

Bhawani Amma’s story compels me to believe that whatever we do in growing period keeps us healthy and sharper in our adulthood and old age. A doctor once said that after the age of 40 if you suddenly start having milk that would not benefit you in any form. And all of a sudden if you start jogging after the age of 40 that would not benefit you. Your diet and fitness regimen should be inculcated in the childhood.

Born during the time when the environment was unpolluted, nature provided Bhawani Amma, from a poor family, with all the nutrition for growth. In today’s world even the fish and vegetables are polluted. So we do not have the uncontaminated natural source to accumulate all the healthy nutrients. Hence we need to depend on food supplements to provide necessary vitamins, proteins and minerals during the growing period. One such popular and easy source of nutrient intake is by malt-based milk drinks.

Parents are doubtful whether milk health drinks are good for the children. Nowadays as we do not have the natural sources to provide proteins, vitamins and minerals to our kids, giving them malt-based hot milk drinks helps provide some nutrition for growth. Studies by consumer organizations show that malt-based milk drinks contains vitamins, minerals, calcium and protein; either all or majority of the nutrients. Children grow up within the blink of an eye and they should not be denied the essential nutrition for growth.

A mother of a 20 yr old girl now wonders whether her daughter did not grow taller because she did not give milk drinks. So instead of ruminating over ‘to give or not to give’ malt-based milk drinks to kids, better start giving them a hot glass of milk drink everyday. Since Consumer studies do not show any side effects of having milk drinks let the kids have milk drink and accumulate some nutrients.

Ministry of environment issues draft notification to check lead in household and decorative paint

According to a notification by Ministry of Environment, metallic lead in household and decorative paint exceeding 90 parts per million is hereby prohibited. The Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change in India, issued the draft Gazette Notification on 8th April, 2016, of certain rules to regulate the manufacture, trade, use, import and export of lead contents in household and decorative paints.

Bureau of India Standards (BIS) shall be the nodal agency for the purposes of these rules and shall implement the provisions of these rules. These rules may be called the Regulation on Lead contents in Household and Decorative Paints Rules, 2016.

Presently there is not mandatory regulation to limit the use of lead in paint. The notification comes after persistent campaigns by consumer organisations and environmentalists as Lead is a major health hazard.  Lead poisoning may lead to genetic disorder, anaemia, learning disability, joint paint, and a host of other ailments. In most countries their are strict regulations to curb the use of lead in paint.

The following conditions shall be applicable namely:

  • The manufacturer or importer of the product shall label its product stating that the lead content does not exceed 90ppm and such labelling shall be durable and legible
  • The labelling shall contain the name of the manufacturer and the importer
  • The stipulations regarding the content of lead shall apply to paints manufactured on and from the date of coming into force of these rules
  • Every manufacturer or importer of product shall have a valid certificate of approval of the nodal agency for the manufacture of the product in India or for being imported into India
  • Every manufacturer or importer shall submit a schedule for drawing samples by the nodal agency by 31st March every year for subjecting its product for verification for conformity with the provision of rule 2.

Any person or organization desirous of making any suggestion or objection respect of the present draft rules may forward the same by writing by mail or fax for consideration of the central government within sixty days to W. Bharat Singh, Joint Director, Ministry of Environment.

Also Read: Be part of the Big Impact: Stop Lead Poisoning

66 percent of Children tested had more than 5 Blood Lead Level

In Cities in India, people are aware that the environment is polluted and that Lead is one of the pollutants. During the Lead in Maggi controversy, consumers argued that compared to the other pollutants in the environment, Lead in Maggi was miniscule. In India, unlike in US there is no mandatory test among consumers to figure out lead toxicity in children.  Blood Lead Level (BLL) more than 5 can cause health, growth, neurological and mental problem for children. There is very little study in India to figure out the BLL of consumers in India among those who are not directly at risk from Lead pollution.

High BLL among Middle and Lower Class

Recently in a study conducted by Lead Activists and Doctors in Banglore, among inpatients aged less than Five, 66% of the children had BLL <5 μg/dl, which is considered as level of concern as per Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention.   The patients have no direct risk of lead exposure. Along with BLL done on the children, questionnaire was supplied to the parent to know about their awareness about lead poisoning.  100 children belonged to the lower, middle and the higher income group. The children with the High BLL belonged to the lower income group more than the middle and the higher income group.

With 66 out of 100 children showing high BLL — with no known direct risks to Lead exposure — proves that there is an urgent requirement of conducting BLL test among children in cities in India.

Very little awarness of sources of Lead Exposure

Lead toxicity in childeren in India - table

The study showed that the awareness of the sources of lead toxicity and the effect of lead poisoning is very poor among consumers in India. Consumers are aware of Lead hazard from paints and batteries, but they were unaware of the lead exposure from soil, dust, groundwater and  vehicular traffic. Apart from the occupational exposure to Lead, water, contaminated food and consumer items are also major sources of Lead. In Delhi there were media reports about Lead in vegetables grown near contaminated water bodies.

According to the study ” ……… build up of Lead
in the environmental compartments is still an issue of high
exposure risk in India, inspite of the relatively lesser organized
production and use of Lead as compared to the developed
countries.”

Parents were prepared to conduct Lead Testing of their surroundings so as to provide safe environs for the Children.

Parents prepared for Lead Tests

The study also showed that parents were prepared to conduct Lead Testing of their surroundings so as to provide safe environs for the Children.

With 66 out of 100 children showing high BLL — with no known direct risks to Lead exposure — proves that there is an urgent requirement of conducting BLL test among children in cities in India. And also awareness should be spread among consumers about how to safeguard their children from Lead exposure. The media can be put to use to spread the message. According to studies children exposed to lead have lower IQ which effect their mental development and thereby resulting in a loss to the nation and humanity.  As Lead is not required in any amount by the human body, steps must be taken to reduce or eliminate the use of Lead.

In order to reduce the menace of Lead you can also participate in the #StopLeadPoisoning campaign.

Few facts about Mosquito-borne Zika Virus in India

There is an alarming spread of the Zika virus in various parts of the world by the Aedes aegypti mosquito that is also the carrier of dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya viruses.  The outbreak which is spreading fast across the globe due to human alterations of their environments. Scientists and Ecologists state can empower disease-carrying organisms such as Aedes, and the viruses can eventually add on in various forms.

Zika virus is an emerging mosquito-borne virus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys through a monitoring network of sylvatic yellow fever. It was subsequently identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. Papers published by National Institute of Virology (NIV), in Pune in 1950’s, by a team of experts and the published paper in 1953, indicates that India is also prone to Zika Virus attacks. They conducted tests on the exposure of Indians to 15 insects-borne diseases, one of which was by the Zika virus. It was found that ‘significant numbers’ of people were exposed to the virus as early as in the 1950s, even before the first official registering of a case of humans in Nigeria in 1954. Only thirty-three of the 196 people tested for the disease had immunity to it. The NIV had concluded in their paper that “It, therefore, seems sure that Zika virus attacks human beings in India.”

Malaria, dengue and chikungunya affected 1.13 million people in India last year. For a decade, the number of reported confirmed cases of malaria is nearly 1.87 crore, and the number of reported deaths due to Malaria case in India is approximately 12,000. At the outset, last year dengue cases and deaths had reached an all-time high in India with 97,000+ cases and 200 deaths in 2015 itself. Our country bears an enormous burden of mosquito-borne diseases, contributing 34 per cent of global dengue and 11 per cent of global malaria cases and with mosquito-borne diseases like  Malaria, Dengue and Chikungunya being widespread in the country for many decades, India should focus how to handle the scenario in case the Zika virus outbreak.

The virus is transmitted by the same mosquitoes that carry other tropical viruses such as dengue and yellow fever. Global health officials are alarmed because of its potential link to brain defects in infants as well as a rare syndrome that can lead to paralysis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that because the Aedes species mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, it is likely that outbreaks will spread to new countries”. The Zika virus is carried by mosquitoes and people but spread by mosquitoes. A few recent studies indicate that Zika continues to be an STD (Sex Transmitted Disease) too. Zika is an RNA virus related to West Nile, yellow fever, and dengue viruses, and caused by the bite of the Aedes mosquito.

 According to WHO (World Health Organisation), Symptoms of Zika virus infection is usually mild. The most common Zika virus symptoms are fever and rash; it can also cause muscle and joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes, and conjunctivitis (itchy, red eyes).  Unborn babies and pregnant women are most at risk. Healthcare workers in Brazil were stunned to learn that, throughout all of 2015 and up to the present, there have been more than 3,500 total new microcephaly* cases that were suspected to be caused by Zika — more than 20 times higher than the numbers in prior years.

The blood-sucking pest has been just increasing with of lot environmental issues, and human intervention with the environment and the dense population of the country also need to be blamed for the rise in the unhygienic way of lifestyle.  Mosquito-borne diseases just spread in, no matter in a particular geographical and before the medical intervention/ control of the scenario it just outbreaks into nuke and corner.

So, the best way of handling the bloodsucker by an individual is to manage our environment. Here are few listed preventive measures to avoid the growth of mosquito and it’s borne disease:

  • Source reduction: Keep the containers such as flower pots, birdbaths, pet water dishes, cans, gutters, tires and buckets free of water storage to avoid the mosquito breeding cycle.
  • Screen & Avoid: Possible ways of mosquitoes entering homes through doors, windows- Keep them netted / pre-close during the morning and evening session. 
  • Proper Clothing & Netting: Make sure you keep away from mosquito bites by wearing full-covered clothes. Use nets/ mosquito repellent while you sleep/ during travel.
  • Environmental Survey of Locality: Report the unused swimming pools, abandoned lake/pond zones in your area to authorities for proper/regular maintenance. Park zone equipment should not cater to mosquito breeding.
* Abnormal smallness of the head, a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development.

About the Author:  
vinay kumarVinay Kumar. C is an Environmental Researcher at NRCLPI – The National Referral Centre for Lead Poisoning in India. He is a multi-skilled professional having an excellent track record of managing complex functional projects in various environments.  

 DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

Be part of the Big Impact: Stop Lead Poisoning

Colourless, odourless and poisonous lead, invisible to the naked eye but is present in the soil, water, air and products of daily use. In countries like The US, FDI takes stringent measures to ensure that lead compound in consumer goods are within the permissible limit; mandatory labour rules and regulations assure the safety of Lead workers. In India various organizations successfully highlighted the hazards of lead in petrol and lead in paint, and they were successful in implementing certain restrictions on the usage of lead. Now Lead is not used in petrol anymore, and lead in paint has to be within permissible limits. There is a long way to go, much more have to be done to reduce or restrict the use of lead in India.

In the last two years, Consumers India conducted a series of research with students, researchers and doctors, accumulating a wealth of information clearly indicating towards the presence of a hazardous level of Lead in India. As a result of consistent effort, letters, based on the studies and discussion, have been sent to Prime Minister, Health Minister, Cabinet Secretary and others in Government of India. This issue has also been flagged before National Human Rights Commission.

According to WHO, 13 out to the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India, and Delhi tops the chart with six times the level of airborne particulate matter than are considered safe. WHO prepared the report based on the presence of harmful gases in the air such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide. There are some other pollutants in our surrounding which need to be reduced or if possible removed from the environment. One such pollutant is Lead, described as ‘hazardous’ and ‘poisonous’ worldwide, and found in dangerous level in the atmosphere as well as inside the human body. All lead found in products are lead compounds which oxidize and mixes with water, soil, air and human blood and bone.

Inorganic Lead compounds used for the industrial or domestic purpose, mostly in the oxidized state, leaches into the soil, water and air resulting in many health hazards leading to even death. According to studies Lead (PB2) is mistaken for Calcium (Ca2) and gets into the bones.

Lead has been used since time immemorial and was considered healthy for use. But scientific studies and clinical reports prove that lead at any level is harmful for human consumption. However because of many useful properties like water resistance and enhancing the colour, lead is used in many domestic and industrial products like the lead sheet, cosmetics, PVC pipes, glaze and ceramic paintings, trinkets and paints.

How to detect lead?

The presence of lead can only be proved by tests at Lead testing labs.

How to participate in the campaign?

All the Data and pictures collected can be tweeted with #StopLeadPoisoning to create the big impact

  • You can take the image of activities around your places like battery recycling or industrial activities which are taking place in areas banned for such activities.
  • If you find lead mentioned in the labeling, then send the pictures.
  • If you think someone, especially worker and kids have symptoms of lead poisoning, take picture and report.
  • If there are products with lead compounds at home, you can click the image.
  • You can also test the soil with Handheld X-ray fluorescence XRF analyzer
  • No level of lead is good for human health, but in many countries blood lead level below 10 is considered safe and above 40 is hazardous.

Products that cause Lead poisoning

big impact - stop lead poisoning

Paints

Lead is used in paints for speedy drying, durability and resistance to moisture that causes corrosion. Since lead is a leading cause of health hazard, many countries have the regulation prohibiting the use of lead in paints.  Alternative water-based paints are available. Although there are restrictions on the usage of lead in paint in India, Lead is added to some paints intended for household use. According to as survey by Toxic Link, it was the small and medium companies that covered 36%of the market which had a discrepancy in their claim about lead in paints. They find some technological difficulty in shifting to lead-free paints. Only lab tests can prove the presence of lead in paint. Lead added paints may be used in the homes. And sometimes playground equipment may contain high lever of lead, making the places hazardous for the kids.

Lead Sheets

Lead sheet is used for the construction of industry for roofing, flashing and cladding. And also used as shielding in the x-ray and nuclear industries. Lead in its solid metallic state (Lead sheet) would not normally present a hazard. However, Lead is a toxic metal and may present a hazard when melted from Lead dust and lead fumes. Oxidation of the surface of the Lead will occur forming a surface layer of Lead compounds.

Lead in water

Lead may be found in some metal water taps, interior water pipes, or pipes connecting a house to the main water pipe in the street. Lead found in tap water usually comes from the corrosion of older fixtures or from the solder that connects pipes. When water sits in leaded pipes for several hours, lead can leach into the water supply

PVC Pipes

As per various surveys and investigations conducted by organisations such as the ‘Quality Council of India,’ the presence of ‘lead in water’ has alarmed people and agencies across the country. Thirty-three percent of over 370 samples of water from the top 26 cities of India tested positive for the harmful content of lead. Out of these, 31% of samples failed to adhere to the World Health Organization (WHO) standards for a lead content of less than 10 ppb (parts per billion), while 2% of the samples failed to meet even the lenient Indian norms of 50 ppb.

Car and Inverter Batteries

 Lead poisoning occurs in many areas because of individuals recycling car batteries melted slag without appropriate controls and without having any understanding of the toxicity of lead.  According to a report, there are 110 Lead acid battery recycling units at Prem Nagar, near Mandoli, in Delhi which….. recover lead, releasing fumes and ash contaminating the air and soil.  Dr Naresh Gupta and Dr Amit Agrawal, of Maulana Azad Medical College, say that blood test on some workers in Delhi found that their blood lead is more that <40μg per dL, i.e., above the permissible limit. In another incident in Delhi  5-year-old girl, whose father is a battery factory worker, died of lead poisoning after suffering from kidney failure.

In humid conditions, car batteries need to be replaced every 2 or 3 years. Batteries are safe, but caution applies when touching damaged cells and when handling lead acid systems that have access to lead and sulfuric acid.

Ceramics Glaze

Lead may be present in the glazes or decorations covering the surface of some traditional pottery. If the pottery is not manufactured correctly, this lead can leach into food and drink that is prepared, stored, or served in the dishes.

It is not uncommon for ceramic items used for cooking or simply for decoration to contain lead. In fact, lead has been used in the glazing process for ceramic dishes, bowls, pitchers, plates and other utensils for centuries. Typically, after being fired in a kiln, a piece of ceramic will appear smooth and shiny due to the lead in the glaze.

However, to ensure that the items are safe for use, it is necessary to heat the ceramic to very high temperatures for a long enough period. If this step is not done correctly, the ceramic could contain levels of lead that pose a threat to human health.

Trinkets

Children use jewelry like bracelets, pendants, rings, etc. To attract kids, jewelry paint bright colours using organo-metallic compounds that are loosely bound to the surface and can peel out quickly. Children have a tendency to chew or swallow the jewellery which can sometimes be lethal.

Cosmetics

  • Kohl, Kahal, Al-Kahal, or Surma: According to FDI, samples often tested contain significant amounts of lead. Lead sometimes accounts for more than half the weight of a sample of kKohl usually in the form of lead sulfide.
  • Lipstick: What many don’t know is that lipsticks may contain lead, the notorious metal that can cause learning, language and behavioral problems. Not all lipsticks contain lead, but some studies in recent years show that the metal is more prevalent than previously thought. In 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics conducted a study — “A Poison Kiss” — that detected lead in 61% of the 33 lipsticks tested, with levels ranging from 0.03 ppm to 0.65 ppm. No lipstick lists lead as an ingredient. The amounts are small, but the presence of lead in lipstick, which is ingested and absorbed through the skin, raises concerns about the safety of a cosmetic product that is wildly popular among women. According to FDI “Lipstick, as a product intended for topical use with limited absorption is ingested only in tiny quantities. We do not consider the lead levels we found in the Lipsticks to be a safety concern.” Cost doesn’t seem to be a factor; a cheap or expensive lipstick isn’t the determinant of how much lead is present.
  • Progressive Hair Dyes: Lead acetate is used as a color additive in “progressive” hair dye products. These products are applied to achieve a gradual coloring effect.To ensure the safe use of these products, it is important that consumers follow these directions carefully.Users can determine if lead acetate is used in a particular hair dye product by reviewing the product ingredient declaration appearing on the label of the cosmetic package.

Toys

Lead may be found in paint on toys. It may also be used in plastic toys to stabilize molecules from heat.

Plastic

Lead softens the plastic. The use of lead is plastic is still prevalent.

Contributors to the Campaign

The inputs from the following discussion and studies were mentioned in the letters sent to Honorable Prime Minister and other higher Authorities.  Important inputs were also provided by various other experts. The contributors are as follows:

  • A group of students, led by Sushant Thakran, pursuing BBS from Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies (University of Delhi) has prepared a study report titled ‘Lead & Occupational Hazards’ during Winter 2014-15 Batch of Internship with Consumers India.
  • Inputs from the study ‘Lead Poisoning and Women’ by the group led by Subuhi Karim (MA Eco-Jamia Millia Islamia).
  • Expert inputs received from Dr Naresh Gupta, Director-Professor,  Maulana Azad Medical College & Associated Hospitals.
  • Dr Roopa Vajpeyi, Academic & Consumer Activist was the mentor of the student groups.
  • Dr Naresh Gupta, Dr Roopa Vajpeyi and Ms Anita Gupta, Academic Head for Science, Mount Carmel School, who were panelists in our programmeIs Lead Poisoning  Killing You Slowly?’
Full text of the LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER, as also some highlights of the study ‘Lead & Occupational Hazards’ are given below.

December 27, 2015

Dear Mr Prime Minister,

I would like to share with you some of our concerns regarding Lead Poisoning emanating from the studies titled ‘Lead & Occupational Hazards’ and ‘Lead Poisoning and Women’ carried out by groups of students led by Sushant Thakran (BBS-3rd yr, Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, DU) and Subuhi Karim (MA Eco-Jamia Millia Islamia) respectively during internship with Consumers India as also expert inputs received from Dr Naresh Gupta, Director-Professor,  Maulana Azad Medical College & Associated Hospitals, Dr Roopa Vajpeyi, Academic & Consumer Activist and Ms Anita Gupta, Academic Head for Science, Mount Carmel School, who were panelists in our programme Is Lead Poisoning  Killing You Slowly?’ Held on October 28,  2015, at India Habitat Centre.

  • Lead is a chemical element in the carbon group which is used extensively in paints, toys, cable sheathing, lead sheets, PVC Pipes, ammunitions, car and inverter batteries, ceramics glaze, cosmetics, etc.  Ayurvedic and herbal medicines may also contain high levels of lead.
  • WHO has identified lead as one of the chemicals of major public health concern. As per their estimates, 15-18 million children in developing countries are suffering from permanent brain damage due to lead poisoning.
  • The tests carried out by the Centre for Science on popular paints in India found that 72 % of the samples had much higher levels of lead than the voluntary limit specified by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
  • All the samples of artificial jewellery tested by Toxics Link were found to contain very high levels of lead, which when ingested, could lead to lead poisoning.
  • 33% of over 370 samples of water from the top 26 cities of India tested positive for the harmful content of lead. (QCI).
  • Exposure to lead causes anaemia, hypertension, kidney diseases and impaired fertility. Children and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning. The foetus of a pregnant woman is gravely affected by lead exposure since lead can pass through the placenta directly to the baby.
  • Lead paint is the major source of lead exposure for children. Children’s digestive system absorbs up to 50% of the lead they ingest. Studies have shown as much as a 5.8 decline in IQ (on a scale where 100 is average) for every 10 micrograms increase of lead in blood levels.
  • As lead paint deteriorates, it peels. A single chip of paint of the size of a thumbnail contains 1 gram of lead, and a few such chips can raise the intake of lead to 1,000 times the acceptable limit. Children with a history of pica (compulsive cravings to eat non-food items like dirt, paint chips or clay) are at risk of lead poisoning.
  • Cosmetics like lipstick, Kajal and sindoor are major sources of lead poisoning in women. The average quantity of lipstick ingested by a woman in her lifetime is 2 kgs, and it is also linked to infertility and miscarriage.
  • A survey of workers carried out by our interns for their study revealed that most of the painters don’t even know that there is the lead in paint which is hazardous to health. The battery recyclers, however, generally know that their field of work is associated with lead. But they cannot imagine switching jobs as they have to feed their family!
  • A survey of consumers revealed that 70% of them had no awareness of the lead content they are exposed to in day-to-day life.
  • Though Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) had revised its household and decorative paint standards to 90 ppm in 2013, it is rarely followed by industry.

We suggest that following steps be taken by the Government to tackle this menace effectively:

  • It is necessary to establish a national mandatory regulatory framework to control the manufacture, import, export, sale, and use of lead paints, toys, cosmetics, Ayurvedic and herbal medicines and other products causing lead poisoning.
  • Awareness regarding lead poisoning should be spread amongst consumers.
  • Prenatal check up of pregnant women should include the blood test for lead.
  • There is also need to review the existing limits for Lead in prevailing standards. Many countries worldwide are reducing the permissible limits. For example, Canada has a limit of 10 ppm for Lead in products applied to the skin.

We appeal to you to kindly take adequate measures to safeguard the health and well-being of our consumers from the hazards of lead poisoning.

With regards,

Yours truly,

Dr Jayashree Gupta

President, Consumers India