KABUL (Pajhwok): Medical experts after a scientific research found elevated blood lead levels in Afghan refugee children resettled in the US and advised families to stop using low quality aluminum cook pots.
The study’s findings are now public and published in “Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology”. The researchers found that the lead level in blood of those who used pressure cookers exceeded the childhood limit.
The researchers through using an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer found that stainless steel cookpots were safer alternatives to aluminum cookpots.
The research indicates children are particularly susceptible to adverse health outcomes from lead exposures. Of special concern is that even low-level exposures can affect a child’s neurological development, with severe impacts on learning, intelligence and behavior.
Meanwhile, medical experts in Afghanistan said Afghan immigrants children in the US might be facing such a problem.
Doctor Sayed Farid Shah Rafiee, specialist of internal diseases at Wazir Mohammad Akbar Khan Hospital, did not deny the result of this research but said: “It is possible that it is reality because most use pressure cookers in Afghanistan while sometimes leftover food is stored in such pots for a long time”.
He said the use of low quality pressure cookers and pots could transfer lead especially to the bodies of children.
Rafiee told Pajhwok Afghan News: “When food is cooked in an aluminum cook pot and if the food is given more heat pressure, small particles of metal can be departed from the wall of the pot and mixed with food, especially if the food is spicier or if vinegar or tomatoes are used a lot in the food”.
He said if lead entered the blood of human it caused serious neurological problems, headache, poor mental growth, abdominal pains and loss of appetite.
Doctor Rafiee advised families that instead of contaminated pots with lead, other good quality pots should be used.
He added: “We must wash the aluminum pot well before cooking food in it and we must not leave the food in such pots for a long time”.
Doctor SayedMurtazaHofiani, a professor in French Medical Institute, said, the lead is transferred from the wall of the cookpot while the food is being cooked in it and then it is mixed with the food. Once eaten, the particles of lead are absorbed by the body and enter the blood circulation system of the human.
He said the absorbed lead in the body caused laziness and created problems to the memory and learning in children. The lead also causes kidney, heart, nervous system diseases and even it causes cancer, he adds.
He advised instead of aluminum cookware, people must use cookpots of cast iron, stainless steel pots or any other good quality cookpots.
Doctor Mohammad Sharif Seddiqi, pediatrics internal medicine specialist, also accepted the outcome of the research and said the use of aluminum and some other cookware caused lead transfer to the blood system.
He added high level of lead in blood had horrible impacts such as delayed growth of nerves, anemia and some mental problems in children.
He advised families to prevent such horrible impacts of lead by removing appliances or toys that contained lead from their houses.
However, Doctor Faridullah Omari, a specialist of the infectious diseases hospital in Kabul, said: “The research is possibly accurate, lead can enter the blood circulation system through some Greek medicines, cosmetics, cigarettes and some prepared foods in metal cans and even through breast milk”.
He said contaminated air also contained high level of lead particles and children were up to four or five folds more vulnerable than adults to the lead in environment, Omari added.
Omari said high levels of lead can cause kidney, heart diseases and cancer, additional to some other problems.
He suggested some methods to avoid lead poisoning. “We must stay away from places where jewelries or other metals are being repaired, we shoul wear mask if the air is polluted, serve foods that contain vitamin C and use garlic on a daily basis in our food regime”.
Medical experts emphasize that the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and media outlets must increase awareness about the harms of lead exposure.