BRASÍLIA, Brazil – The breath-taking nation of Brazil has suffered a longtime environmental battle with lead poisoning.
The issue of Brazil’s lead exposure first came to public health notice in the 1980s when children of growing regions began to suffer lead-induced complications.
The origins of the issue can be derived from the use of lead as the basis for much of Brazil’s industrial success. However, as poisoning rates began to spread from children to livestock, lead was exempted as an economic success factor by 1995, and was instead utilized as a massive recycling component.
The transition, however, was ineffective. It incited enough concern for medical researchers to determine the ongoing causes behind the revival in lead exposure.
Medical researcher M. Paoliello, whose study was acquired for a 2006 public feature in the U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information, or NCBI, confirmed that shortly after Brazil’s last lead refining plant closed, hundreds of secondary smelting factories were established in a young-demographic, urban-based area.
Additionally, Paoliello recognized the inadequate regulatory limits that were still being utilized within public workplaces, based upon selected studies, which served as an initial key contributor to lead exposure.
In a separate study launched by the Natural Resources Defense Council, analyst Herbert H. Needleman examined the issue of education in regions like Brazil and the potential connection to lead poisoning. In 1997, Needleman theorized that young adults who sustain 20 milligrams of lead within the teeth are six-times more likely to suffer from a reading and vocabulary disability.
M. Paoliello and fellow researcher José A. Menezes-Filho also discovered in their collaborative research that children under the age of 10 who lived close by the smelting factories were easily susceptible to lead poisoning due to their high absorption rate and developing nervous system.
Further supporting this claim, a 2006 medical study conducted by the University of São Paul (data later retrieved by the NCBI) showed that 97 southern Brazilian children between the ages of zero and five were tested for blood lead levels after problems arose from a then-unverified contaminant location.
Medical researchers theorized that of the 97 tested subjects, only 16.5 percent were tested for abnormal traces of lead in their respective blood levels. While air pollution was ruled out as a potential factor, researchers further theorized that the issue of waste recycling activity and high lead traces within southern Brazilian soil accounted as problematic factors.
Moreover, the results also considered the average Brazilian father’s poor educational level as an additional factor. Impoverished fathers, especially those who bear the traditional “authoritative” and “occupational” duties, possess parallel ties with analyst Herbert H. Needleman’s precaution of the onset dangers of low education contributing to lead exposure.
Additional testing to determine similar measures within adults was taken into consideration. M. Paoliello noted in a separate study that southern Brazilian adults over the age of 40 and who were active drug users contained high lead levels within their blood.
Paoliello additionally tested non-white southern Brazilian adults who held either former or current employment in lead industries in addition to using drugs in the past. It was found that the tested individuals contained higher lead levels within their blood as opposed to the previous test subjects.
As in his previous 2006 research, M. Paoilello issued a concern to enforce stricter regulation within the lead industries to attain a lead-free environment.
A vast majority of the aforementioned findings would be utilized and retested with animal subjects in the 2012 work, “Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology,” where collected data indicated that dairy cows were at a high risk of lead poisoning. According to the publication, because they fed predominantly on plants grown in semi-arid conditioned soil, the cattle were placed at maximal risk due to the unearthing of odd trace levels of lead embedded in the ground.
In a mid-2012 study conducted by Brazilian research team SciELO, medical examiners subjected 80 calves to an isolated “paddock” area, hoping to verify the ongoing theories of lead-embedded soil. Over the course of their testing, researchers discovered that of the 80, only 10 came back infected. Nine of the diseased eventually died, while the one remaining recovered after being relocated.
Upon additional examination, researchers found that side effects leading to the eventual deaths of the infected included excessive salivation, muscle tremors, decreased tongue tone, nasal secretion and difficulty breathing. The aforementioned aftereffects were later cited as main components to the damage of the nervous system.
Yet in between yearly medical research, little aid has been distributed to relieve poverty-stricken Brazilian families of lead exposure.
Several researchers, like those of the Network Institute for Global Democratization, or NIGD, have strongly proclaimed optimistic plans to demolish the use of lead-churning powerhouses such as landmines.
In 2004, NIGD announced to reporting site The World Revolution that Brazil was the cited hopeful “lead” in the cause to ban landmines by campaigning for global taxes alongside its discussions with U.N. initiatives for potential development funding. NIGD went on to outline a tentative strategic plan for the Millennium Development Goals to reduce 50 percent in hunger and poverty levels, and to establish universal primary education and gender equality by 2015.
In reference to NIGD and Brazil’s recent progress of poverty alleviation, reporting agency MercoPress noted that 40 million Brazilian natives have transitioned from low-income households to middle-class settings, aided by the support of “economic growth and inequality reduction.” However, since 2011, it is estimated that 64 million people are still trapped in the web of poverty.
The bittersweet journey of minimizing poverty has not severed hope. The Brazilian public is highly hopeful that the accompanying studies yielded by medical researcher and examiner Robert J. Taylor has led to a potential readily-accessible solution, with selenium as a potential contender.
Throughout his 2010 animal test studies, Taylor found that the selenium chemical had the high potential to reduce “lead-induced impairment” within the organs such as the kidney, liver and brain.
Taylor additionally noted in his medical research that the chemical is easily retrievable via Brazilian protein, specifically nuts. The natural, abundant product regularly contains an excessive amount of selenium and it is often advised to not ingest more than 16 to 25 servings on a daily basis.
With high hopes, medical analysts across Brazil are still adamantly involved in conducting further solutions to combat the seemingly endless lead crisis.
– Jeff Varner