Chennai : The Indian Institute of Technology-Madras
(IIT-M) and Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur researchers are
conducting a study to find out the appropriate policy instruments
that can help India to reduce lead pollution.
The research groups joined forces to look collectively at the
problem of lead recycling in India as lead pollution can harm
the mental and physical health of people and can contaminate
The workers, who recycle lead in an informal setting break the
lead-acid batteries in a fashion causing spillage of acid and
lead dust in the soil and surroundings. Also, the lead is melted
in open furnaces due to which poisonous gases reach the air.
“This way of lead recycling is not only harmful to environment,
but also the health workers engaged in the recycling process”,
a release from IIT-M said today.
However, the low operational cost of this manoeuvre makes it
still an attractive choice.
It said the presence of the informal sector and its undesirable
consequences are more predominant in developing countries
where the costs and lenient regulations and laws have helped
the unregulated sector to grow at a faster pace.
The study suggested that the policy guidelines such as reducing
the tax on the regulated recycling sector and providing subsidies
to regulated recycling and remanufacturing sectors reduce lead
pollution from lead-acid battery recycling.
Another important finding was that a very high subsidy to the
formal remanufacturing sector can lead to the shutting down
of both regulated and unregulated recycling sectors.
The release said a report by UNICEF titled ‘The Toxic Truth:
Children’s exposure to lead pollution undermines a generation
of potential’ estimated that approximately a third of the world’s
children, including 27.5 crores of Indian children, have higher
exposure to lead as their blood lead levels have 5 micrograms
per deciliter or more–levels which are hazardous to their health.
Though high lead levels are equally harmful to grown-ups, the
high levels of lead in children are known to reduce IQ, decrease
attention span, cause anaemia, kidney and liver disorders, among
other issues in children.