Contaminated soil could cause lead poisoning in children
Apr 22 2013
Years after lead paint was banned throughout Europe and the US, children are still at risk from contracting lead poisoning from contaminated soil. A new report from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that 535,000 children between one and five years old, in the US, have a minimum of five-micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood.
The CDC's definition of elevated blood-lead in children is ten micrograms per deciliter of blood - a change from 60-micrograms per deciliter in the early 1970s. Although the CDC has lowered the amount at which it recommends medical intervention, there is no safe level of lead in the blood. Damage - such as cognitive and developmental issues - can still occur at ten-micrograms.
Children are especially susceptible to damage caused by lead poisoning. Children with even a low level of lead in the blood can suffer from stunted growth rates, learning disabilities, hearing problems and lower IQ scores - amongst other significant problems.
The CDC's report shows that not much has changed - in terms of an analysis of data from the 2007-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey - from the results found in 1990. It has been argued that the lack of a decrease in the lead rates in children's blood is due to the CDC focusing too much on a single source of exposure - lead paint.
Shawn McElmurry, a civil and environment engineer at Wayne State University, said: "There has been a lot of effort put into education and remediating houses with lead paint, but it hasn't been successful at reducing lead exposure. We need a more holistic approach that also deals with contaminated soils."
Soils have been contaminated as the lead that was in petrol has deposited in the ground and is still present. Children play in the soil - sometimes ingesting it - and so the lead can find its way into their systems. Arguments are being made, not only to better educate people on the issue, but to invest money into cleaning up areas where the soil is proven to contain high levels of lead - especially if children often frequent those areas.
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