Thursday, 17 September 2009


Young children's exposure to lead in the environment is harming their intellectual and emotional development, according to UK researchers.

The researchers say the toxic effects of lead on the central nervous system are obvious even below the current so-called safe level of lead in the blood.

They are recommending the threshold should be halved.

Lead has been removed from paint and petrol by law in the UK, but it is still widespread in the environment.

Sources of Lead:

Lead-based paint
Household dust
Lead water pipes
Soil around the home
Paint on children's toys
Children's bead necklaces
Christmas lights
Lead smelters/industries/incinerators

The Bristol researchers took blood samples from 582 children at the age of 30 months.

They found 27% of the children had lead levels above five microgrammes per decilitre.

They followed the children's progress at regular intervals and then assessed their academic performance and behavioural patterns when they were seven to eight years old.

After taking account of factors likely to influence the results, they found that blood lead levels at 30 months showed significant associations with educational achievement, antisocial behaviour and hyperactivity scores five years later.

1.With lead levels up to five microgrammes per decilitre, there was no obvious effect.

2.But lead levels between five and 10 microgrammes per decilitre were associated with significantly poorer scores for reading ( 49% lower) and writing (51% lower).

3.A doubling in lead blood levels to 10 microgrammes per decilitre was associated with a drop of a third of a grade in their Scholastic Assessment Tests (SATs).

4.And above 10 microgrammes per decilitre children were almost three times as likely to display antisocial behaviour patterns and be hyperactive than the children with the lower levels of lead in their blood.

You may remember the Avonmouth smelter post Bristol are sensitive to this area of contamination.You may also remember how blase the English authorities are about measuring heavy metals,and think the problem is over for London. The map above,from Hull,shows the widespread extent of potential plumes.

Well, this research proves its not over....and that all those other heavy metals,mercury in particular,will make it all very much worse.As usual,the children are most vulnerable.....the researchers are beginning to reccommend that paediatricians start taking blood level tests of Lead again, and all that "hidden" contaminated land is just as important as ever.

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