Higher blood lead found in pregnant women of Bangladesh: icddr,b study
Dhaka, July 18 (UNB) – Presence of higher blood lead level (BLL) has been found in some pregnant women of rural areas in Bangladesh, said a recent icddr,b study done in collaboration with Stanford University, USA.
A third of pregnant women surveyed were found having elevated BLL greater than 5 micrograms per deciliter (DL) while 6 percent of them had more than 10 micrograms per DL. One sample was found at 29.1 micrograms per DL, which is 6 times greater than threshold noted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Findings published in Environmental Research analysed BLL among 430 pregnant women in some districts, said icddr,b on Monday.
The study identified multiple possible sources of lead exposure from the environment and food sources, said Professor Stephen P. Luby, senior author of the study and professor of medicine at Stanford University.
“Compared to women with low blood lead levels, women with the highest blood lead levels were more likely to be exposed to consuming food from lead-soldered metal food containers (cans), consuming food from agricultural fields where herbicide and pesticides have been used and consuming ground rice,” said Sarker Masud Parvez, co-author of the study and research investigator at icddr,b.
Since women with higher BLL were more likely to have been exposed to possible lead sources in the environment, the researchers examined soil, 382 agrochemical samples including herbicides and pesticides and 127 ground and unground rice samples.
Of the food and agrochemical samples analysed, seven out of 17 turmeric powder samples had excess lead than the tolerable limit at 2.5 micrograms per gram, designated by Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI). One unpackaged and unbranded sample contained over 265 microgram/gram lead.
According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), elevated BLL in pregnant women is a cause for public health concern. It is a threat for mothers and their developing fetus as well for the newborn as lead deposits in the mother’s body are released in blood and subsequently into breast milk. Lead exposure in pregnancy interferes with children’s brain development. In adults, lead exposure increases the risk of heart and brain diseases.
Since women with higher BLL were more likely to consume food from lead-soldered food cans, the researchers examined 28 cans which the women had used to store dry food such as puffed rice and turmeric.
“It is possible that food stored in these cans absorbs lead from the soldered seams, depending on the chemical composition of the food, especially liquid,” said Jenna E. Forsyth, a doctoral researcher at Stanford University and first author of the study.
However, the women reported storing only solid food such as puffed rice. Since these cans are old and rusty, it is possible that old and rusted oxidised particles flake off into puffed rice and then inadvertently consumed, read the study.
Since there was insignificant lead level in the soil, rice and agrochemical samples analysed, the study notes that currently banned agrochemicals (herbicide and pesticide) may have contributed to lead exposure in the past.
“Lead exposure over time results in lead deposit in the bones and it may be released in the blood during pregnancy,” mentioned Dr Rubhana Raqib, co-author of the study and senior scientist and head of immunobiology, nutrition and toxicology laboratory at icddr,b.
Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that exposure to lead for these women could have taken place over a decade prior to sample collection, the study noted. Some of the banned agrochemicals are often rebranded with other names and may be a source of occasional contamination which is yet to be proven.
However, the tangible evidence of lead in some turmeric samples issues a warrant to investigate this further to ascertain possible sources of lead contamination.
The study was supported by Stanford University's Woods Institute, USAID, Stanford's Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, Stanford's Center for South Asia, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dhaka, May 26 (UNB) – Hazera Begum still remembers how she had run away from her family in the mid-1970s as an eight-year old.
In an attempt to escape from the torment of her stepmother, she initially began her homeless life as a street urchin, collecting garbage waste, selling them and even begging for a living.
After facing molestation, she was taken by the police to Kashimpur Vagrant Home, from where she was later taken to a welfare officer’s home to work as a household help.
She was molested there as well, forcing her to escape and become a street urchin again. After becoming a victim of gang rape while visiting Mirpur Zoo, she was finally lured by a man, offering a job, and being sold off to Sadarghat’s Kundopatti brothel to work as a prostitute.
Rawshan Ara, 27, another floating sex worker from Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban area, has a similar troubled childhood and went through similar ordeals before turning to prostitution.
They are two of millions of girls who are forced into the sex trade in Bangladesh, thanks to fall of social values among the lower sphere of society.
According to a 2015 report by Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), there were 1.5 million street children in Bangladesh, out of which one-fourth were young girls.
Many of them turn to prostitution as other means of earning such as selling flowers, begging, garbage collecting and such do not bring enough income for them.
Most of them are deprived of their basic needs such as secure living place, proper food, healthcare, education, sanitation facilities and entertainment.
A research conducted by Unnayan Onneshan in 2012 showed that 70 percent street girls were sexually abused and 19 percent began prostitution from as early as the age of 11.
A 2016 Sex Workers Network report states that there are over 1.02 million sex workers, out of which 29,000 are underage ones.
They are mainly reported to work in various areas in the city such as Dhaka University campus, Karwan Bazar, Chandrima Uddyan, High Court Mazar, Sayedabad Bus Terminal, Sadarghat and Kamalapur Railway Station.
Both Unnayan Onneshan and Unicef reported in 2012 that the major reasons for young girls turning to prostitution are family detachment, poverty, physical and sexual exploitation and more.
Sahanaz Begum, former president of Durjoy, an NGO for sex workers, said when she was an activist, she found that many street girls were duped by their family members or lovers and sold into whore houses, and it is still the case.
“Many men used to sell their wives for Tk 20,000-50,000,” she added.
Though trafficking girls and women and pushing them into prostitution are crimes according the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act 2012, little prosecutions see the light of such cases.
According to statistics provided by Bangladesh Police Headquarters, some 3,500 cases were filed across the country since formulation of the act.
There are several government and non-government safe homes and dropping centers, which provide day or night, or both, shelters for vulnerable street girls, but due to low capacity, many girls cannot avail themselves of the facilities.
Wahida Banu, executive director of Aparajeyo Bangladesh, one of the NGOs which run at least 200 dropping centers, children shelters and emergency homes for street children across the country, told UNB that if a social movement can be created for a better future for these girls, then their misfortune can be averted.
She said the NGOs run by project-basis work of few years, but individual projects cannot bring any significant change in their lives.
The Social Welfare Ministry has been working for the street girls while the Women and Children Affairs Ministry started some programmes for them in 2013.
Social Welfare Minister Rashed Khan Menon told UNB that his ministry has some safe homes and shelters for the street children and they take the children’s issue under consideration when they get involved in any anti-social or criminal activities.
He said the Women and Children Affairs started rehabilitation activities for the girls along with his ministry, but still the government facilities are not enough.
The minister added that the government is very sincere to solve the problem and will gradually expand the area of the existing programmes for ensuring better lives for these street girls.
Dhaka, June 7 (UNB) - The excitement of Eid shopping for soccer lovers this time has doubled as they flock to jersey shops to buy the jerseys of the teams they are supporting ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2018.
In each World Cup, Bangladeshi football fans are seen to wear the jerseys of their favorite players, hoist flags of their favourite teams and this year the fun is going to be double as many are buying jerseys as part of their Eid shopping.
Though Bangladesh is not in the competition, the craze is no less here among the fans.
Ahead of the World Cup tournament, which will kick off in Russia on June 14 just before the Eid-ul-Fitr, the biggest religious festivals of the Muslims in the country, the wholesale and retail markets of jerseys in Dhaka go abuzz with football fans.
Among the customers, most are teenagers, college or university students. Children were also found visiting shops holding the hands of their parents to buy their favourite World Cup jerseys.
Dayed Hassan Milon, a Dhaka University student, who was looking for jersey at Gulistan, said the fun of the game increases much more while watching the matches wearing favourite team’s jersey.
“I’ve been buying my favourite team’s jersey since my childhood and this year I completed my Eid shopping with the jersey,” he added.
Bulbul Ahmed, another Dhaka University student, said it has always been part of the World Cup celebration. This year the Eid shopping has become more special because of it.
While buying her jersey from New Market, Nabila Feroze said the heat of the coming tournament can be felt in the markets as the shops are decorated with flags of different competing countries.
“The excitement of Eid shopping has just increased to an extent having jerseys on the shopping list,” said the soccer fan.
While fans are busy buying jerseys and flags, sellers are also busy fulfilling the demand.
Nazmul Hossain, a salesman of a jersey shop at New Market, said this year the demand of jerseys are bit higher than the previous years due to the festive season.
Football lovers are visiting the shops looking for their desired jerseys. Many are buying both the versions of each team’s jersey, he added.
Though the jersey shops are in full gear, the price is also higher, claimed the customers.
Expressing satisfaction about jersey sale, Md Robin, another jersey seller of new market said, “The response is more than that expected, people are visiting and buying jerseys a lot.”
The salesman agreed that the price is increasing and many of the buyers are returning empty handed.
“The uniforms of two countries, Brazil and Argentina, are on top of sale. The jerseys of Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal are also in good demand,” he added.
Dhaka, Mar 3 (UNB) - Almost two dozen young and up-and-coming writers of Dhaka University wrote new books for Amar Ekushey Boi Mela 2018, where most have had their books published for the first time.
A majority of the new writers of Dhaka University have shown their interest in poetry. “Kabita Kingba Maddharat ar Prolap” written by Tazwar Rizon, “Onisshes” of Hussain Imran, “Obakto Unuvuti” of Mominul Islam, “Nijossho Karagar” of Osit Devnath, “Protuttorer Opekkhau Notice Board” of Probal Kumar Das and Mahbubur Rahman, “Nilamborir Nil Kanna” of Fatema Tasnim and so many other poets came forward with their debuts.
The novel writers also aren’t too lagging behind. Sumona Mridha, a 3rd year student Pali and Buddhist Studies department, published her first novel -- Gohon Maya – at the fair. Besides her, Taffahul Jannat Maria wrote “Shunno Baluchor” and Sharif Khan came with “Kichu Ful Kichu Vul” to promote our Bengali literature.
Some writers ventured into non-fiction and essays. Ariful Islam came with “Arguments of Argue” to clear some controversial question about Islam. Ariyan Opurbo’s “Nagorik Hemleker Obak Mrittupan” and Abdullah Adil Mahmud’s “Mohabisser Simana” are also the results deep research.
“Book fair is symbol of youth, symbol of courage, symbol of excitement, symbol of charm,” said noted Folk Literature collector and researcher Syed Akhi Haque, adding that in this technological era, it is encouraging that our youth still come forward to publish books that undoubtedly prove that our literature is expanding.
Akhtaruzzaman, a lawyer by profession and a resident of Paltan area, was gossiping as he moved from one stall to another and bought more than 30 books. He said he specifically sought out new authors’ books as he gets inspiration by reading their books.
“There is no new writer, everyone is a writer. Though their books are published for the first time I don’t call them new writer,” said Mehedi Hasan, Publisher of the Bengali publication, when answering a question that how much new author’s book publish in that year from his publication.
Expressing his optimism about our rising authors, Mehedi Hasan said that this youth will one day shine brightest in Bengali literature and culture.
Dhaka, Apr 10 (UNB) – While the flame of quota reform demand is gaining momentum with the growing involvement of students and jobseekers at the foot of Raju Sculpture on the Dhaka University campus, students boycotted their regular classes apparently to intensify their demand.
The students of both public and private universities have boycotted their classes for the last few days.
Most classrooms at the Dhaka University were found empty as students decided not to attend classes. The scenario at Rajshahi University and Jagannath University was the same while Jahangirnagar University students boycotted their exams, too, according to reports reaching the UNB newsroom.
On Tuesday, students of private universities, including East West University, North South University, BRAC University, United International University and Daffodil University took to the streets boycotting their classes with the demand for reform of the quota system.
The movement started on April 8 when jobseekers and university students staged demonstrations across the country demanding reform of the existing quota system in government recruitment tests, including BCS examinations.
As part of the movement, students have kept themselves away from attending classes to express their solidarity with the demonstration.
Ahnaf Tahmid Ratul, a student of Mass Communication and Journalism department, said he boycotted his classes supporting the cause.
“No more bloodshed, no more tears. I hope the government also will try to understand what the general students are saying and take necessary steps on the promised date,” he said.
Sushmita Chakraborty, another 2nd year student of the Dhaka University, said she was boycotting the classes as part of the non-violent movement.
“Now, we’ve decided to continue the boycott protesting the police attack on our classmates,” she added.
Shabbir Shojib, a student of Anthropology department, said the students of his department have decided not to attend their classes and exams protesting the silence of the DU authorities over the police attack and Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury’s statement.
Sought comments, Dhaka University Vice Chancellor Prof Akhtaruzzaman told UNB that the students should come back to their classes as they got assurance from the government that it will look into their demand, or else, there will be session jam.
Claiming that no DU student was involved in the attack on his house, the VC said his university students cannot commit such a heinous crime.
Assuring that no innocent student will be punished, Prof Akhtaruzzaman said it was a planned attack to divert the movement to a different direction.
However, Bangladesh General Students' Rights Protection Forum at a press briefing on Tuesday morning said they have suspended their movement until May 7 following an assurance from the prime minister on quota reform.
But a divergent faction is continuing the quota reform movement on the Dhaka University campus asking for the reform in one week’s time.
On February 17, students and jobseekers started the movement to press for their five-point demand that include introduction of unified age limit in government jobs, review of quota system in government recruitment process, including Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) examination, stopping taking benefit by job seekers under the same quota, filling vacant posts from merit list if the candidates from quota are not found and fixation of 10 percent quota instead of existing 56 percent.