Illegal mining is running rampant in Nigeria, and the country's children are paying the price. According to NGO News Africa, medical personnel in Nigeria have seen an outbreak in lead poising in at least 6 villages in Zamfara since mid-March. And the majority of victims are children aged five years and younger.
Government investigators claim that the activity of illegal miners and the improper processing of lead- contaminated gold ore have caused the lead poisoning outbreak. And the greater involvement of women and children in processing lead contaminated gold ore in their homes, means that they will suffer the greatest damage.
Doctors on the scene have documented lead blood levels of more than 65,000 micrograms per deciliter (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that a blood lead level of 10 micrograms per deciliter or above is a cause for concern).
The implication of the Nigerian cases is that many of the children may have suffered permanent brain damage as well as damage to the central nervous system. Control measures are underway to control the outbreak and prevent future cases with efforts such as chelation therapy, identifying and remediating contaminated areas, developing public health messages, and controlling mining activities.
But these efforts are expensive. For example, to place just one child on the complete dose of drug treatment requires about N480,000 [3,190 U.S. dollars].
And still the illegal mining continues.