Guest Opinion: Lead Poisoning Still Threatens Utah's Children

By Fruin, Claudia | Deseret News (Salt Lake City), October 24, 2018 | Go to article overview

Guest Opinion: Lead Poisoning Still Threatens Utah's Children


Fruin, Claudia, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)


Oct. 22-28 is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. Today we know there is no safe level of lead in the body. Although the risk of lead poisoning has decreased significantly since the 1970s, when the Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of lead in paint and slowly phased out the use of lead in gasoline, the Flint, Michigan, water crisis has reminded us that lead is still a threat.

Not only did the lead-tainted drinking water triple the number of children with lead poisoning, leaving them with an uncertain future, a new study shows a 12 percent decrease in Flint’s fertility rate and a 58 percent increase in fetal death during the time Flint River water was used. If the risk to children and pregnant women is not alarming enough, a recent study in The Lancet shows that low-level lead poisoning in U.S. adults is likely a significant cause of cardiovascular disease and death. This risk is about 10 times higher than previously believed and may contribute to 400,000 U.S. deaths a year.

Why is it still important to screen and test for lead exposure? In Utah, the most current data show that 2.1 percent of our estimated 260,000 children ages 5 years and younger have an elevated blood lead level. This translates to an estimated 5,500 preschool age children at risk for lowered IQ scores, ADHD, behavior and learning disorders as well as hearing loss and kidney disease. Lead poisoning usually goes unrecognized except at high levels, it is cumulative and it affects nearly every organ system. …

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