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No Safe Level of Lead

Even very low levels of lead can damage children's brains, an international study has concluded... a study from the Children's Environmental Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital found a decreased I.Q. in kids with levels as low as 2.4 micrograms per deciliter.

By Christina Elston

Even very low levels of lead can damage children's brains, an international study has concluded. The national Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently considers lead levels of 10 micrograms or above per deciliter of blood (one millionth of a gram per half cup) to be dangerous. The CDC estimates that one of every 11 U.S. children has lead levels within this range. But a study from the Children's Environmental Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital found a decreased I.Q. in kids with levels as low as 2.4 micrograms per deciliter.

Health consequences of lead exposure can include brain and nervous system damage, behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, headaches and anemia. Lead usually enters the body when kids ingest lead-tainted dust, soil or paint chips, especially in homes built before 1978.

If you suspect that your home has high lead levels:

  • Have your home and young children tested.
  • Wipe soil off your shoes before entering the house.
  • Wash hands, bottles, pacifiers, toys, floors, windowsills and other surfaces with soapy water often.
  • Make sure everyone gets adequate levels of calcium and iron in their diet to decrease absorption of lead.

For more information, check out www.epa.gov/lead.

Read More: Health Notes

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