26 Jun 2013:
Exposure to Lead Costs
Developing Nations $1 Trillion Annually
The exposure of children to toxic lead, and the subsequent declines in IQ and earning potential, costs the developing world nearly $1 trillion annually
, according to a new report. Based on the average lead levels in children under the age of 5, researchers from New York University found that Africa suffers the
greatest costs from lead exposure, losing an estimated $137.7 billion annually, or about 4 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP). In Latin America, the costs are about $142.3 billion, or 2 percent of its total GDP, the study found, while in Asian nations the costs are about $699.9 billion, or 1.88 percent of GDP. By comparison, the annual costs in the U.S. and Europe, where exposure to lead has decreased significantly in recent decades, are about $50 billion and $55 billion, respectively. According to the report, lead consumption has increased worldwide
since the early 1970s, largely because of the rising demand for lead batteries. “Childhood lead exposure represents a major opportunity lost,” said Leonardo Trasande, of NYU’s School of Medicine, the lead author of the study published in Environmental Health Perspectives
. “Prevention may actually accelerate economic development, which is critically needed in these countries.” Overall, the study estimates that burdens associated with childhood lead exposure amounted to about 1.2 percent of the world GDP in 2011.