U.S. Lead Exposure Deaths Nearly 10 Times higher than Previously Reported


    U.S. lead exposure deaths nearly 10 times higher than previously reported by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle.

    Lead exposure may be responsible for 250,000 heart-disease deaths each year in the U.S., according to a new study.

    Scientists have long known that lead poisoning causes long-term harm to adults, brains and kidney damages as well as increases the risks of health problems from high blood pressure to heart disease. The new study is published in the Journal Lancet Public Health today.

    The researchers concluded that each year, more than 400,000 deaths of adults in the US can be linked to lead exposure. The study used a national health survey that looked more than 14,000 participants in the U.S. over nearly two decades. Participants’ blood had been tested for lead sometime between 1988 and 1994.

    People may be exposed to lead through household dust, water, cigarette smoke, paint, food, as well as during working at construction sites and auto shops. Products such as lead-glazed ceramics, some children’s toys, and fishing weights include lead.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood exposure to lead increases risk of behavior problems, hearing and speech problems, delayed development, IQ deficits, and more.

    “My guess is that internists and family doctors who are caring for adults are, after the publication of this study, going to think more about lead as a risk factor for heart disease,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, Dean for Global Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and an expert on environmental pollution in children.