Saturday, September 1, 2007

Lead poisoning in Kabwe

Zambia' s economic outlook is slowing getting better, however the ghosts from its past economic failures - stretch their terrible shadows everywhere. In Kabwe the threat from the collapsed lead mining venture is present and needs desperate attention from ALL Zambians abroad. We can NOT just express dismay or disgust as children and adults expose their fragile bodies to lead poisoning. Lead poisoning has grave effects including reduced IQ, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, behavioral problems, stunted growth, impaired hearing, and kidney damage. At high levels of exposure, a child may become mentally retarded, fall into a coma, and even die from lead poisoning.
Al Jazeera has this recent report by Yvonne Ndege.....

Kabwe is a wasteland full of the remnants of Zambia's once glorious mining past.
Decades of unregulated mining, however, have turned Kabwe into Africa's most toxic town.
Al Jazeera's Yvonne Ndege travelled to Kabwe, about 150km north of the capital, Lusaka, and filed this report.
Abandoned by industry in 1994, former workers still come to Kabwe in search of lead and other metals to sell, to scrape a living.
Exclusive report
Watch Al Jazeera's report on Zambia's toxic town Alex, a father of four has been working here illegally for years. He thinks he already has lead poisoning and that, eventually, it will kill him.
"It's dangerous," he said. "But its just to help our family to survive."
Mines in Kabwe were built and operated without health and safety concerns or environmental regulation. As a result, Zambia's people are now facing the consequences.
Families in the area have been warned not to drink water from wells in their garden.
Source Al Jazeera

Zambians in the US, UK and other countries can take the following actions;
  • Initiate written or verbal petitions with Zambian mission to cause the Zambian government to condone off the Kabwe mine deposits by whatever means necessary including police deployment.
  • Begin purchasing Lead poison testing kits to send to Kabwe through Zambia mission.
  • Initiate fundraising projects to support safe income generating ventures for those affected.
  • Lobby international agencies that might support cleaning up the mine deposits.

Please feel free to add other ways to help, you can make a difference for the children in Kabwe.

1 comment:

MrK said...

Hi Kashikulu,

I also think this is an extremely important subject.

The greatest priority of course is to close off the source of the lead poisoning. Beyond that, check out the concept of Bioremediation.


This file has an interesting section on the bioremediation of lead (page 26-33).

Bioremediation is the concept of growing specific plants or fungi like mushrooms that have the tendency to absorb and concentrate heavy metals and other contaminants.

The plants are then harvested and destroyed with other chemical waste, taking the metals out of the system.

In water, some bacteria or enzymes are used to break down heavy metals.

This website lists the following plants, that specifically absorb and store lead:

- Sunflowers—uptake lead.
- Indian mustard greens (brassica juncea)—uptake lead, arsenic and other heavy metals.
- Brakefern (pteris vitatta)—uptakes arsenic.
- Alpine pennycress (thiaspi caerulescens)—uptake lead, cadmium and zinc

(This is also an interesting website on the concept of compost teas, which are an organic fertilizer that farmers can easily make themselves - instead of waiting for the government to give them chemical fertilizers.)


Also check out the famous Paul Stamets's website on the use of fungi in bioremediation, called mycoremediation,