A recent study released by the UN shows that at least half of the 328 children tested while living near Dandora, one of Africa's largest dumps, currently have levels of lead in their bodies exceeding international limits. And that's not to mention the fact that it's also polluting the nearby city of Nairobi, Kenya's capital in the process. Of course, you might not get the chance to read that as front page news too often, as the very real problem of lead in toys has taken on a life of it's own in American media, almost to the exclusion of dealing with the problem it poses to children and adults across the globe.
Though that reality probably wouldn't have surprised legendary economist and thinker Adam Smith one bit, as he once observed of the general sentiments of humanity, "If he was to lose his little finger tomorrow, he would not sleep tonight; but, provided he never saw them, he will snore with the most profound security over the ruin of a hundred millions "
It seems that half the children tested were also suffering from respiratory diseases, including chronic bronchitis and asthma as a result of exposure to pollutants. And according to Njoroge Kimani, the report's main author, "We have been witnessing an alarming situation regarding Dandora children's health: asthma, anaemia and skin infections are by now endemic."
The dump itself receives about 2,000 tons of Nairobi's trash daily. And that presents a very real dilemma for residents there. Do I do my best to avoid it, or do I use it as a source of income? In fact, many kids are busy collecting plastic bags from the dump, washing them in the polluted river using tiny fragments of soap they scrounge up and then sell the reused bags to buy food. And an eleven hour work day for kids probably violates loads of international work standards too, but when you're a nameless, faceless child growing up in the slums I suspect you'll do whatever it takes to just get by.