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Experts Endorse Lower Lead-Poisoning Threshold
Date:1/6/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Pediatric health experts are applauding a U.S. advisory panel's recommendation to lower the threshold for toxic lead exposure in children.

Lead, a metal once common in gasoline and house paint, can permanently damage developing brains.

On Wednesday, the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention voted to recommend that the federal government change the standard for lead poisoning from 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood to 5 micrograms. This was the first time in two decades that the panel recommended lowering the levels.

"We are delighted that we have finally moved forward," said Ruth Ann Norton, executive director of the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. "It's long overdue. This is science that's been out there."

Existing guidelines have given parents and doctors a false sense of security that children are safe from harm, Norton said.

If the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adopts the panel's recommendation, as many as 1 million children could be diagnosed with lead poisoning, up from the current 250,000, according to Dr. John Rosen, a professor of pediatrics and head of the division of environmental sciences at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

"It's about time for CDC to move from its definition of childhood lead poisoning of 10 [micrograms per deciliter of blood] to 5," Rosen said. "Ten was established 20 years ago and there are at least 20 articles which demonstrate unequivocally that there are adverse effects of lead on IQ and intellectual and cognitive development at blood levels between 5 and 9."

Although banned from house paints in 1978, lead-based paint in deteriorating housing remains the major source of childhood lead poisoning today, Rosen said.

Lead is also found in some art supplies and imported toys, old
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