Learning the Lead Exposure Hazards

‘Safe’ levels of lead may not be that safe after all. ‘Efforts to reduce lead exposure in the United States have been a good news-bad news affair — and the bad-news side of the ledger just got a bit longer. Although the removal of most lead from gasoline and paint in the United States has driven exposure levels down — way down from levels seen 30 years ago — new research sharply lowers the level of lead exposure that should be considered safe. And it expands the population of people who need to worry about the toxic chemical. Concern about lead exposure has long focused on children, who can suffer mental impairment and later fertility problems at elevated levels. More recently, children with blood levels of lead long considered safe have been found more likely to suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.’

U.S. clears wide use of quick test for lead exposure: A blood test that can tell within three minutes if a person may have been exposed to high amounts of lead won U.S. clearance for use by thousands of schools and clinics, officials said on Monday. The test, made by privately held Magellan Biosciences Inc., can now be used by more than 115,000 facilities nationwide that screen children and adults for lead exposure, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.

ATSDR: Lead Toxicity – Exposure Pathways. ‘Lead is a naturally occurring element that people have used almost since the beginning of civilization. Human activities have spread lead widely throughout the environment-the air, water, soil, plants, animals, and man-made constructions. Because lead is spread so widely throughout the environment, it can now be found in everyone’s bodies; most people have lead levels that are orders of magnitude greater than that of ancient times (Flegal and Smith 1992, 1995) and within an order of magnitude of levels that have resulted in adverse health effects (Budd et al., 1998).’

CDC – Lead (Pb) Toxicity – How Are People Exposed to Lead?. ‘People should avoid exposure to lead. Lead poisoning is caused by elevations in blood lead levels (BLLs), primarily through breathing or ingestion (eating or drinking) it. BLLs are currently the best indicator of personal lead exposure.’

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