Linked: Doe Run and Lead Poisoning

Article excerpt

To the list of casualties of the lead mining industry in Missouri - our air, our water, our land and the busted boom towns of the Old Lead Belt - we must now add the health of our children.

For the first time, a scientific study has linked lead blown from six huge piles of mining waste to elevated levels of lead in children's blood. The children affected live around Bonne Terre, Desloge, Leadwood and Parks Hills in the Old Lead Belt.

The study, conducted by the Missouri Department of Health for the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, found that 17 percent of the children in the area between the ages of 6 months and 6 years have elevated levels of lead in their blood. Only 3 percent of the children in a control group had elevated levels of lead in their blood. Health officials found lead from the mine waste piles in soil and dust sampled in yards, play areas, window wills and vacuum cleaner bags. Young children swallow lead particles when they get dirt or dust on their hands a nd put their fingers in their mouths. Lead can damage developing fetuses and young children, causing nervous system abnormalities, irregular growth and brain damage. Lead poisoning also lowers children's IQ. Lead's effects can begin at levels as low as 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, the level which health officials consider cause for concern. Among the children who had higher than normal levels of lead in their blood, the highest had 34 micrograms per deciliter of blood - nearly 10 times the national average for preschoolers. …