There is an alarming increase of cases of lead poisoning across India. Across major cities, doctors are expressing concern at this “silent epidemic”. SRL Diagnostics claim that out of 600 samples every month for Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy which, 350 samples were found to contain lead followed by Copper (125), Zinc (50) and other metals such as Arsenic, Mercury and Chromium. National Referral Centre for Lead Poisoning (NRCLP) director Dr Venkatesh Thuppil in Bangalore has warned that India is on the verge of becoming the “world capital of lead poisoning”.
One of the main reasons for this is that while the government is promoting solar energy, little has been done to highlight the recycling problem which would release huge quantities of lead pollution. “Off grid solar power uses lead-acid batteries which are difficult to recycle. This problem is becoming manifest in Bihar which presently has the highest density of solar panels but where the extended producer responsibility of recycling these lead-acid batteries is unheard of,” (Gopal Krishna, Toxics Watch Alliance)
Used batteries contain up to 18kg of lead, which can cause high blood pressure, kidney damage and abdominal pain in adults, and serious developmental delays and behavioral problems in young children because it interferes with neurological development. Unfortunately, lead poisoning occurs over a period of time and patients generally come to hospitals with a range of complaints making it difficult to diagnose.