Thursday, 26 April, 2018

Lead exposure may be more deadly than previously thought

Lead was used in petrol for decades despite its toxicity. Its use was phased out in the 1990s Lead was used in petrol for decades despite its toxicity. Its use was phased out in the 1990sBEN GURR FOR THE TIMES
Marlene Weaver | 14 March, 2018, 09:34

But in a huge proportion of cases, the underlying cause is lead, according to the study: As many as 256,000 adult deaths from heart disease per year in the U.S. can be blamed on low-level lead exposure. There's also ongoing exposure from foods, emissions from industrial sources and contamination from lead smelting sites and lead batteries, the researchers explained. Lead was once widely used in petrol, plumbing, paint, and other consumer products, but as it emerged that high exposure to the chemical - defined as having a blood lead level of 5 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dL) or higher - can be toxic to humans and animals, efforts have been made to reduce its use.

"Nobody had even tried to estimate the number of deaths caused by lead exposure using a nationally representative sample of adults", Dr Bruce Lanphear, a professor of health sciences at Simon Fraser University and a leading author of the study told CNN. All participants underwent a medical examination and a test on their lead level.

However, they acknowledged the use of a single baseline lead value to predict outcomes over the following 20 years was not ideal; serial measurements may have been more informative. Over the last 10 years, research has found an array of health effects in adults at low levels; the US Department of Health and Human Services published a monograph in 2012 showing that even very low blood lead levels raised a person's risk for hypertension, heart disease, and reduced kidney function.

Professor Kevin McConway, Emeritus Professor of Applied Statistics at the Open University, said: "The researchers make a very important point in their report - that it is more accurate to view this study as estimating how many deaths might have been prevented if historical exposures to lead had not occurred".

Lead has always been marked out as a toxic substance and has been phased out since the 1990s to reduce its environmental impact.

Puppy Dies After Flight Attendant Insists On Stowing Him In Overhead Luggage
United Airlines confirmed the incident to BuzzFeed News , calling it "a tragic accident that should never have occurred." . The airline also was sued last summer over the death of a giant rabbit on a flight from London to Chicago.

Researchers estimated that 28.7 per cent of cases of annual premature heart disease death in the United States could be attributed to lead - a total of 256,000 deaths per year.

In children, lead exposure may cause developmental, behavioral, and learning problems, as well as anemia and problems with hearing.

Additionally, the NHANES study only took one reading of participants blood lead, which can change throughout people's lives as they are exposed.

The research found that people with high lead levels were at 37 per cent greater risk of premature death from any cause, 70 per cent times greater risk of cardiovascular death, and double the risk of death from ischemic heart disease, compared to those with lower levels.

They were not, however, able to factor out the possible impact of exposure to arsenic or air pollution. However, because lead can contribute to conditions such as high blood pressure and hardening of arteries, it is also believed to contribute to cardiovascular and heart disease. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to remove workers from exposure when their blood lead levels rise to 50 µg/dL in the construction industry or 60 µg/dL in other industries, and they can return to work when their blood lead levels go down to 40 µg/dL.

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