Lead poisoning is among the least recognised and most neglected global public health and development challenges. Estimates suggest that about one in two children in low- and middle-income countries have dangerously high blood-lead levels, hampering their ability to grow, learn, and thrive; lead exposure also causes an estimated 900,000 cardiovascular deaths per year (more than malaria). The key sources responsible for lead poisoning vary widely between and within countries, and include lead- acid battery recycling, mining and ore smelting, contaminated spices, lead paint, and cookware. G20 cooperation is needed to increase awareness of this slow- moving global crisis; to develop a measurement and surveillance agenda that monitors population-level lead exposure and identifies sources of contamination; and to support policy and delivery interventions that reduce the burden of lead poisoning in affected communities. Under India’s presidency, the G20 should take meaningful action to protect children’s potential, people’s lifelong health, and the shared environment from the widespread scourge of lead poisoning.
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