Lead exposure linked to emotional problems, anxiety and pervasive developmental problems in children – Dr. Eddy Bettermann MD

Even relatively low levels of lead exposure can produce emotional disorders in children, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics on June 30.

Lead, a naturally occurring element and widely used industrial metal, is a potent toxin that affects every system of the body but is particularly damaging to the developing nervous systems of children. Studies have shown that even low levels of lead in children’s blood can lead to permanent behavioral and cognitive damage, including lowered IQ, hyperactivity, and behavior and learning problems. Lead has also been shown to produce anemia, slowed growth and hearing damage in children.

Even the 5 µg/dl level should not be considered “safe” though. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “no safe blood lead level in children has been identified.”

In the United States, childhood lead exposure often comes from the consumption of lead-based paint, which was phased out in the 1980s. Yet lead is also notorious for traveling long distances in the air, then binding to soil particles or seeping into ground water far from its source. Original sources of lead contamination can include historic use of leaded gasoline, and historic or contemporary industrial pollution, ammunition, batteries and lead pipes. The CDC estimates that 4 million U.S. households contain children who are being exposed to high levels of lead, including half a million children with blood levels above the “action level” of 5 µg/dl.

Lead exposure linked to emotional problems, anxiety and pervasive developmental problems in children – Dr. Eddy Bettermann MD