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Lead Still a Threat to Children

April 8, 2013
Plain English Version

More than half a million children under the age of six in the U.S. are believed to have lead poisoning. This is about twice as many as earlier estimates.

This is not because more children are ingesting lead. It is because the definition of lead poisoning has changed. A year ago lead poisoning was defined as 10 micrograms in one-tenth of a liter of blood. Now it is defined as 5 micrograms.

Lead can harm developing brains, kidneys and other organs. It can also reduce intelligence, impair hearing and influence behavior. High levels can cause coma, convulsions and death.

The good news is that lead is less of a problem since it was removed from gasoline, paint and other products.

Children pick up lead from old homes or homes in repair.  Paint chips, dust, soil and drinking water also can be tainted.

The Center for Disease Control study found lead counts were higher for poor children and African-American children.

However, even with the new standards, the number of children who have lead poisoning is dropping steadily.

The Miami Herald

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