Spices marketed in Morocco have one of the highest lead concentrations in the world, according to a report by UNICEF and Pure Earth. In the face of these alarming revelations, the World Health Organization calls for urgent action.
A report by UNICEF and Pure Earth entitled “The Toxic Truth: Children’s Exposure to Lead Pollution Undermines a Generation of Future Potential,” reveals the high lead content in spices sold and bought in Morocco.
The UNICEF and Pure Earth report cites five countries with the highest lead levels in spices: Morocco, Georgia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal.
The conclusions of the report are based on the analysis of 1,496 samples of about 50 spices from 41 countries. The findings show that more than 50% of the samples have detectable levels of lead, with more than 30% having concentrations above 2 ppm based on laboratory analysis.
“Lead is a potent neurotoxin that causes irreparable damage to children’s brains. It is particularly destructive for babies and children under the age of five because it damages their brains before they have had the opportunity to develop fully. Lead exposure in children has also been linked to mental health and behavioural problems and increased crime and violence. Older children suffer serious consequences, including an increased risk of kidney damage and cardiovascular disease later in life,” the report says.
The report states that about 1 in 3 children – up to 800 million worldwide – have blood lead levels of 5 micrograms per decilitre (µg / dL) or more. In the face of these alarming data, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are calling for urgent global and regional interventions.