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Leading the way to a toxin-free India

THEY CALL him 'the lead man' of India as he got Indians rid of the 'lead' in petrol. Now he is after batteries.

india Updated: Apr 23, 2006 00:00 IST

THEY CALL him 'the lead man' of India as he got Indians rid of the 'lead' in petrol. Now he is after batteries.

Director, National Referral Centre for Lead Poisoning in India (NRCLPI) and Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at St. John's National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore, Prof Thuppil Venkatesh is a man on a mission against the carelessness with which lead is allowed to poison our water, air and environment.

He was in the city on Saturday to attend the workshop 'quality control in clinical laboratories' organised by the KGMU's department of bio-chemistry and to talk about his mission and vision for a toxin-free environment in India. “It was fortunate that the government could notice the presence of lead in the blood and the hazards from it, specially for the kids. But there is a lot to be done for keeping toxic lead away from our stomach,” Prof Venkatesh said.

Presently, he said, he was working on a draft proposal for the manufacturing units of batteries and their reuse in India with OK International Organisation. The draft would include safe production process for battery companies, which may restrict the flow of lead into the environment. “The problem is grave with the reuse of batteries also where the major players are railways and telecom industry. If the defunct batteries are returned to the manufacturing units and are disposed of adequately, the problem could be less serious,” he said.

Along with batteries, metal scrap, paints and computer monitors are some of the key sources of lead and ubiquitous parts of modern living. "We need to do something about them also. Lead quietly eats into our health, affecting the human nervous system, male fertility, kidney and growth and functioning of the brain", he says.

Delivering a lecture on the accreditation of hospitals and medical laboratories at the workshop, Prof Venkatesh pointed out that functioning of the laboratories was useless if it gave inaccurate test results for the doctors to diagnose and treat patients.

What was more, if the toxic waste from the laboratories and the hospitals continued to rock the roads, it would add to the worry. Therefore, it was necessary that laboratories too followed certain norms and the best ones had been drafted by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibrating Laboratories (NABL), said Prof Venkatesh.

Dr Abbas Ali Mahdi of the department of bio-chemistry said that still there were a few laboratories that got accreditation done with NABL. He said the process was optional but more laboratories should come forward to form a higher standard of diagnosis and treatment.

The programme was addressed by a number of experts and scientists from different institutes and was conducted by Dr Abbas Ali Mahdi.

First Published: Apr 23, 2006 00:00 IST