MEDICALLY REVIEWED

Quiapo Church Medallions Expose Shocking Levels of Lead

lead levels quiapo church

Recent findings by the EcoWaste Coalition have revealed alarming levels of lead in medallions sold at the Quiapo Church in Manila. 

This discovery has raised significant health concerns for consumers, particularly those purchasing these items for religious purposes. The presence of such high levels of lead poses a severe risk, emphasising the need for immediate action and heightened awareness.

Toxic Lead Levels Detected

The EcoWaste Coalition conducted an x-ray fluorescence test on the medallions, uncovering lead concentrations of 100,000 parts per million (ppm). Subsequent confirmatory analysis reported even higher levels, reaching 255,000 ppm. These figures starkly exceed the permissible limit of 100 ppm, indicating a severe health risk. Such elevated levels of lead are dangerous and can cause acute and chronic health problems, especially for vulnerable populations such as children and pregnant women.

Sources and Routes of Exposure

Lead is a naturally occurring toxic metal found in the Earth’s crust, but human activities have exacerbated its prevalence in the environment. Common sources of lead exposure include:

Occupational Exposure: Industries such as mining, smelting, and battery manufacturing expose workers to lead particles. Workers in these industries are at a higher risk of prolonged exposure, which can result in serious health issues over time.

Environmental Exposure: Lead-contaminated dust, water from leaded pipes, and food stored in lead-soldered containers are significant sources. Contaminated soil near industrial sites and highways also poses a risk.

Household Items: Lead-based paints, ceramics, certain traditional medicines, cosmetics, and even some toys can be sources of exposure. Products such as the medallions sold at Quiapo Church can inadvertently introduce lead into the home environment.

Health Effects in Children

Children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning due to their developing bodies and behaviours such as hand-to-mouth activity. Lead exposure in children can lead to:

Neurological Damage: High levels can cause coma, convulsions, and even death. Survivors of severe poisoning may suffer from intellectual disabilities and behavioural disorders. Long-term exposure, even at low levels, can result in cognitive impairment and developmental delays.

Developmental Issues: Although symptomless, lower levels of exposure can impair brain development, leading to reduced IQ, attention disorders, and decreased educational attainment. Such impacts can have lasting effects on a child’s future.

Other Health Impacts: Lead exposure can also result in anaemia, hypertension, kidney damage, and immunotoxicity. Children with lead exposure might experience growth retardation and hearing loss.

Health Effects in Adults

Cardiovascular Problems: Increased blood pressure and hypertension contribute to heart disease. Chronic lead exposure is linked to cardiovascular issues that can significantly reduce life expectancy.

Kidney Damage: Long-term exposure can impair kidney function, potentially leading to chronic kidney disease. Kidney damage from lead exposure can be irreversible and lead to long-term health complications.

Reproductive Issues: Lead can cause infertility, miscarriages, stillbirths, and other reproductive health problems. It can also reduce sperm quality in men and lead to birth defects and developmental issues in offspring.

Cognitive Decline: Long-term exposure in adults can cause cognitive decline and memory problems. Older adults with a history of exposure may be at higher risk for neurodegenerative diseases.

The Burden of Disease

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), lead exposure is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease. It is responsible for millions of deaths and disabilities each year, accounting for substantial proportions of idiopathic intellectual disability, cardiovascular disease, and chronic kidney disease globally.

Call for Action

EcoWaste Coalition’s findings highlight the necessity for stricter enforcement of safety standards for consumer products. The group has called on authorities to take immediate steps to remove these hazardous items from the market and ensure that similar products are thoroughly tested before reaching consumers. There is an urgent need for increased regulatory oversight and swift action to prevent further exposure.

Consumer Awareness and Safety Measures

The EcoWaste Coalition has urged consumers to be vigilant and avoid purchasing potentially harmful products. The organisation recommends buying items from reputable sources and checking for safety certifications. Additionally, they emphasise the importance of proper disposal of toxic items to prevent environmental contamination. Educating the public about the risks of lead exposure and how to identify and avoid unsafe products is crucial.

Regulatory Response

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and other regulatory bodies have been called upon to increase their monitoring and enforcement activities. These agencies are responsible for ensuring that products in the market meet safety standards, and the recent findings underscore the need for enhanced oversight and regulation. Ensuring compliance with safety standards and removing contaminated products from the market are essential steps in protecting public health.

Conclusion

The discovery of toxic lead levels in Quiapo medallions serves as a critical reminder of the importance of consumer safety regulations. Protecting public health requires vigilant monitoring and swift action to address and prevent such risks. Consumers are advised to stay informed and cautious about the products they purchase, especially those intended for personal use or religious purposes. Collaborative efforts between regulatory bodies, consumer advocacy groups, and the public are essential to eliminate lead exposure and safeguard health.

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