Jamaica(JIS)-LEAD POISONING – URGED TO AVOID IMPORTS CONTAINING LEAD: The Caribbean Poison Information Network (CARPIN) is warning that persons may unwittingly be bringing products containing lead into the country. Speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank at the agency’s head office in Kingston on Wednesday, October 18, CARPIN’s Poison Information Coordinator, Sherika Whitelocke-Ballingsingh, said while Jamaica does not have a major concern with one of the most commonly used products globally that contains the hazardous element, lead paint, as it is no longer used in the mainstream locally, there are other imports through which lead can enter the island.
 “We realize that Jamaica has become a global marketplace where persons are purchasing things online… (and) although measures have been set up at the ports to monitor what is coming in, we can’t definitively say that nothing (with lead) has come in;  so we may actually find (that there are such) products here. Additionally, although we do not produce (or use) lead paint in Jamaica (in the mainstream), we can’t say that it does not come into the island,” she said.
Mrs. Whitelocke-Ballingsingh emphasized that with Jamaicans importing goods from all over the world, it is imperative that they be enlightened on the prevailing dangers lead poses, so that they make informed decisions on the things they plan to bring in.
To this end, she encourages persons to read the labels of their purchases to ensure there is no lead present in the compositions. Meanwhile, Mrs. Whitelocke-Ballingsingh is expressing the hope that a strengthened surveillance programme will be instituted that facilitates legislation and policies that prevent the importation of products containing lead, and the appropriate safeguards against potential poisoning resulting from persons’ exposure to the hazardous element.
“If we have programmes in place to test or monitor samples of the persons who come in (with products suspected of containing or determined to contain lead), then we can trace and pick up where it is coming from (and put the necessary preventative measures in place),” she said.
The Think Tank was a precursor to International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action, which will be observed from October 22 to 28.

The focus for Jamaica is eliminating lead exposure through the environment.

Contributed by Dr Colin O Jarrett

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