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Jul 17, 2005 | For many years now, exposure to lead has been known to produce permanent devastating intellectual impairment in children. If there was any factor that was looked upon positively when it came to such exposure, it was the “level” of lead present in a child’s blood.

Although arbitrary “danger” threshold blood levels have been set through the years, many experts and some studies have suggested there is no safe level of contamination when it come to this toxic heavy metal.

A new study, published in the July issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspective, seems to remove any speculation that lead is capable of doing enormous harm to children regardless of how low the exposure may be.

Summing up the essential conclusion of the study, lead author Dr. Bruce Lanphear, director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, stated: "The study indicates there is no threshold for the adverse consequences of children's exposure to lead. We found evidence of intellectual impairments among children with blood lead levels below 10 micrograms per deciliter, the level currently considered acceptable by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study indicates that the action level set by the CDC isn't adequate to protect children."

The study analyzed data from 1,333 children, with a wide range of blood lead levels, from around the world from birth or infancy until they were 5 to 10 years old.

The findings showed that even blood lead levels below 7.5 micrograms per deciliter are associated with significant intellectual impairment. In fact, the study found that intellectual impairments caused by low levels of exposure are proportionally greater than those caused by higher exposure levels.

Clearly, the goal must be complete prevention and not merely limiting the level of childhood exposure to lead. Dr. Lanphear stated that this study and other available data are ample proof that the goal should be “to eliminate childhood lead exposure by banning all nonessential uses of lead and further reducing the allowable levels of lead in air emissions, house dust, soil, water and consumer products."

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