Lead Exposure in Low and Middle-Income Countries: Perspectives and Lessons on Patterns, Injustices, Economics, and Politics

Published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, October 2018

Katarzyna Kordas, Julia Ravenscroft, Ying Cao and Elena V. McLean

Lead exposure is a legacy issue that continues to affect vulnerable population groups globally, but particularly in low and middle-income countries (LMICS). We take a multidisciplinary approach to examine the patterns of lead exposure in these countries, discuss the underlying injustices and socio-political causes, and the economic costs that are associated with exposure. We conclude with some lessons we drew from our discussion of lead across the disciplines and advocate for a number of approaches to solving this ongoing issue. These include (i) biomonitoring that could be integrated into existing health surveys or public health programs targeting young children; (ii) greater civic engagement to push for solutions; and, (iii) environmental control policies that represent a continuum of local, context-specific to broad, national-level, and even global approaches.