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Even Small Amounts of Lead Harmful to Kids
Date:9/17/2009

Current 'safe' levels of exposure set by CDC need to be lowered, experts say

THURSDAY, Sept. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Children with blood lead levels well below those considered safe are still at risk for problems with intellectual and emotional development, British researchers report.

Currently, the maximum safe blood level of lead is 10 micrograms per deciliter (10 mcg/dl), which was set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1991. However, even this level appears to be too high, experts say.

"This study confirms what we have been seeing in recent studies, that the current CDC level of concern here in the United States of 10 [mcg/dl] is not adequately protective," said Kim Dietrich, a professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati.

This study clearly shows that blood level concentrations between 5 mcg/dl and 10 mcg/dl are associated with poorer educational performance and antisocial behavior, Dietrich said.

Dietrich noted that, in his own studies, he found children exposed to low levels of lead were also prone to criminal activity as adults.

The British report is published in the Sept. 17 online edition of the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

For the study, researchers from the University of Bristol's Center for Child and Adolescent Health, led by Dr. Alan Emond, took blood samples from 582 2-year-olds. The children were participants in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.

When the children were 7 to 8 years old, Emond's team assessed their school performance. Among the 488 children for whom complete data was available, the researchers found a link between blood lead levels at age 2 and academic performance and behavior at ages 7 and 8.

In fact, the higher the lead levels at 2, the poorer the later reading, writing and spelling grades, and the greater the chances of antisocial behavior, the researchers fo
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