Malawi - children - green tobacco sickness (nicotine poisoning)..


November 17, 2009 - The world’s seventh largest producer of tobacco, Malawi earned just $162m (£97m) from this cash crop in 2007. The tiny nation is the supplier of 10% of all Burley tobacco, the premium leaf used in most of Britain’s leading cigarette brands.

We have reported tobacco pickers in Malawi are exposed to "extremely high levels of nicotine poisoning." Little government attention is devoted to the environmental damage caused by tobacco. Because nicotine is regarded as harmful to both humans and the environment, the US Environmental Protection Agency has designated waste tobacco as toxic. Such waste is classified as “toxic and hazardous” by European Union regulations when its nicotine content exceeds 0.05%.

Downstream from the tobacco processing plants that dominate the outskirts of Lilongwe, the Malawian capital, rivers run yellow and green from industrial outflow. Even more alarming, however, is that in a community already plagued by Aids, cholera, malnutrition and one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, toxic tobacco waste is being dumped by contractors in open landfill sites where hundreds of children are picking through the remnants. The children try to sell the waste for fertiliser or for use in cheap black-market cigarettes bound for Zimbabwe. But they pay a heavy price by risking their health.

The report claimed that children forced to work as tobacco pickers are exposed to nicotine levels equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day. Child labourers as young as five, it alleged, are suffering severe health problems from a daily absorption of up to 54 milligrams of nicotine through their skin.

Those interviewed for its report spoke of common symptoms of so-called green tobacco sickness, or nicotine poisoning, including severe headaches, abdominal pain, muscle weakness, coughing and breathlessness.

Few benefits from the tobacco industry filter down to Malawi’s poor tobacco farmers.

Reference: Tobacco poison surrounds child workers, Dan McDougall, TimesOnline.co.uk, 11/15/2009.

Malawi - related news briefs:
Malawi - deports leaf tobacco merchants for paying low prices..;
Malawi - kids working in tobacco production..
Malawi tobacco estate workers have not benefitted..;
Malawi - how can this country survive without tobacco??;
BAT using illegal tactics to get African youths to start smoking..;
British American Tobacco (BAT) - 100 years in Africa...
(farming, children, child)

1 comments:

  Koddy

July 12, 2010 at 11:10 AM

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