A recent study indicates that the blood lead levels of children in Ulaanbaatar were twice the standard amount, announced D.Naransukh, the Head of the Environmental Health Faculty of the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences, on February 8.
“We took blood samples from children under the age of five who are living in five districts of Ulaanbaatar to measure the level of lead in their blood. The results were shocking as we found up to 22 micrograms per deciliter of blood in some of the children. The World Health Organization and most experts use a reference level of five micrograms per deciliter to identify children with elevated blood lead levels and determine if the lead level will influence children’s neural development. Yet, blood lead levels of children who live in apartments were 3.7 micrograms per deciliter, while children living in relatively heavily polluted ger districts had an average of 10.8 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. This is two times higher than the standard amount,” D.Naransukh urged.
The Public Health School tested 15 children from Bayankhoshuu, Da Khuree, Narantuul, city center, and Zaisan areas for the research. Even though the levels of lead in these children were high, experts assured that it wasn’t to the extent of concern. Reportedly, treatment is advised when a child has elevated lead level in their blood that is greater than 45 micrograms per deciliter.
D.Naransukh highlighted that air pollution could be the main cause of elevated blood lead levels in children. He said that children can get in contact with lead through not only food but also due to environmental pollutions in their surroundings.
Experts say that there is no safe blood lead level in children as even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect intelligence, the ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. It’s said that the effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected. Researcher E.Undarmaa elaborated on the dangers of exposure to lead.
“Lead is a dangerous material that affects neural activity. The neural activity and development of cells are highest among children under the age of five. During this period, contact with lead can damage children’s brain cells and in some cases, damage nerve cells so badly that it affects their memory skills and slow their development and growth. As nerve cells can’t rejuvenate, this can permanent damage their mental ability,” she stated.
At present, there are three public hospitals and a private clinic in Mongolia where you can get your blood lead level tested.