Nearly one in three children in the world has been exposed to poisonous lead, a UN report revealed on Thursday.

In the report, the first of its kind, UN Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, underlined that up to 800 million children worldwide have “blood lead levels at or above 5 micrograms per decilitre (µg/dL)” which requires action.

With UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, and research organizations, UNICEF released a joint report — titled The toxic truth: Children’s exposure to lead pollution undermines a generation of future potential.

Citing the World Health Organization, the report said that level may be associated with “decreased intelligence in children, behavioural difficulties and learning problems.”

Causing lifelong neurological, cognitive and physical damage and even death from lead poisoning, children aged under five are at the greatest risk, according to the report.

The research also highlighted that most of these children exposed to lead are from Africa and Asia, while many are affected in Central and South America and Eastern Europe as well.

“One of the most concerning sources of lead exposure is the unsound recycling of used lead-acid batteries (ULABs), most of which are found in cars, trucks and other vehicles,” it noted.

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