“By the 1950s, lead—a dangerous neurotoxin that was once buried deep in the ground, far away from humans—had polluted the entire planet.” We have leaded gasoline to thank for this. It’s onerous to imagine “a better strategy for maximizing population exposure to a poison than to have it emitted by a ubiquitous mobile source and to line the surfaces of dwellings” and our neighborhoods with it.
“Overall, about 5 million metric tons of lead was deposited in the environment as a result of the combustion of leaded gasoline” by our cars before it was regulated. A single busy road might obtain greater than a metric ton a yr, and the lead simply constructed up, decade after decade. Finally, because of laws starting in the 1970s, we stopped spewing a lot into the air. As you’ll be able to see at 0:57 in my video “Normal” Blood Lead Levels Can Be Toxic, as lead use dropped, so did the degrees of lead in our blood, leading to a 98 % discount within the proportion of young youngsters with elevated blood lead levels. Of course, the term “elevated” is relative.
“Prior to 1970, lead poisoning was defined by a blood lead concentration of 60 mg/dL or higher” however “since then, the blood lead concentration for defining lead toxicity gradually has been reduced” to 40 mg/dL, then 30 mg/dL, then 25 mg/dL, and then further right down to 10mg/dL, as lead levels “previously thought to be safe or inconsequential for children have consistently been shown to be risk factors” for cognitive and behavioral problems.
Currently, an elevated blood lead degree is taken into account to be more than 5 mg/dL. So, beneath 5 mg/dL, your lead degree is considered to be non-elevated or regular. But what does having a “normal” lead degree imply?
“Virtually all residents of industrialized countries have bone lead stores that are several orders of magnitude greater than those of our preindustrial ancestors.” If you go to a museum and check the lead levels of historic skeletons buried a millennium in the past, they’re a thousand occasions decrease compared to individuals right now, “which indicates the probable existence within most Americans of dysfunctions caused by poisoning from chronic, excessive overexposures to industrial Pb lead.”
You can see a graphical illustration of “body burdens of lead” in a preindustrial ancestor, a typical American citizen, and a person with overtly symptomatic lead poisoning, where he is perhaps doubled over in pain, at 2:30 in my video. What the medical and research communities had failed to know is that that they had only involved themselves with individuals with precise lead poisoning and those at “typical” lead ranges, but “the new value for natural lead levels in [preindustrial] humans shows that typical levels of lead in humans are quite definitely not properly described by the term ‘very low levels’ at all, but instead constitute grossly excessive, 1000-fold over-exposure levels.”
The backside line? “No level of lead exposure appears to be ‘safe’ and even the current ‘low’ levels of exposure in children are associated with neurodevelopmental deficits,” including lowered IQ. It might have been lots worse if we hadn’t started proscribing leaded fuel. Thanks to falling blood lead levels beginning within the 1970s, preschoolers born in the 1990s have been two to 5 IQ factors larger than youngsters like me born before 1976. So, once we see our youngsters and grandkids being such wizzes at know-how that it’s arduous to keep up with them, a small a part of that could be them not struggling as a lot lead-induced mind injury as we did. And, what meaning for the nation is probably lots of of billions of dollars of improved productiveness as a result of our youngsters are much less brain-damaged.
If that looks like so much for just some IQ factors, as you possibly can see at 4:26 in my video, what you need to understand is that even a small shift in average IQ might end in a 50 % improve in the number of the “mentally retarded,” tens of millions more in need of special schooling and providers.
So, “removal of lead from gasoline in the United States has been described as one of the great public health achievements of the 20th century, but it almost did not happen.” Indeed, “tremendous pressure by the lead industry itself was brought to bear to quiet, even intimidate, researchers and clinicians who reported on or identified lead as a hazard.” Decent “scientists and health officials faced enormous opposition but never lost sight of the mandate to protect public health.”
Two of the “young, idealistic employees” at the newly shaped Environmental Protection Agency, who performed key roles in the battle, recount how “naïve [they were] to the ways of Washington”:
“Our youth was also used against us. Our inexperience was cited as a reason for rejecting the lead regulatory proposals….Finally, in retrospect, our youth and inexperience also helped us to succeed in taking on a billion dollar industry. We were too young to know, that regulating lead in gasoline was impossible.”
What about lead exposure after childhood? That’s the subject of my video The Effects of Low-Level Lead Exposure in Adults.
What can we do about lead exposure? See:
- How to Lower Lead Levels with Diet: Thiamine, Fiber, Iron, Fat, Fasting?
- How to Lower Lead Levels with Diet: Breakfast, Whole Grains, Milk, Tofu?
- Best Foods for Lead Poisoning: Chlorella, Cilantro, Tomatoes, Moringa?
- Best Food for Lead Poisoning: Garlic
- Can Vitamin C Help with Lead Poisoning?
- Yellow Bell Peppers for Male Infertility and Lead Poisoning?
- How to Lower Heavy Metal Levels with Diet.
If you missed the first three videos on this collection, take a look at:
For the consequences of mercury, another heavy metallic, see:
Michael Greger, M.D.
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