- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 21, 2010

GENEVA (AP) - The U.N. says it has sent an emergency team to Nigeria after more than 200 children have died there this year from lead poisoning.

The global body says it will take soil and water samples from villages in the northwestern Zamfara state where gold is mined by hand.

A spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says more than 18,000 people are believed to be affected.

Elisabeth Byrs told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that lead poisonings have been reported in at least seven villages.

The team includes specialists from the World Health Organization, the U.N. Children’s Fund and Doctors Without Borders. The mission ends Oct. 7.

Heavy exposure to lead can cause brain damage, blindness and death, especially in children.

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