Threshold for Lead Poisoning Lowered By CDC

Earlier this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lowered the amount lead in the blood required to demonstrate lead poisoning. The amount was reduced to five micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood from the previous standard of 10 micrograms.

This move by the CDC means that more children may be diagnosed with lead poisoning. Lead is a metal that was once frequently used in household paint and gasoline. Lead-based paint in older and deteriorating housing is one of the main causes of lead poisoning in children. Lead can also be found in plumbing or on older painted or imported toys.

When a child touches items containing lead, and then places their finger in their mouth, the metal can enter their body resulting in permanent brain damage. It may impact children’s development, IQ, memory, learning, abstract thinking, fine motor skills, concentration and communication skills.

The CDC has not adjusted acceptable blood levels of lead for two decades. The change is considered long overdue by many advocates. “Ten [micrograms] was established 20 years ago and there are at least 20 articles which demonstrate unequivocally that there are adverse effects of lead on IQ and intellectual and cognitive development at blood levels between five and nine,” explained the head of environmental sciences at New York City’s Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center.

Experts think the number of children diagnosed with lead poisoning could grow from 250,000 to 1 million. The new standard will hopefully result in health and housing departments taking action. However, if you fear your child may be a victim of lead poisoning don’t wait for others to act. An attorney can advocate on your behalf to hold landlords or others accountable for the harm to your child.

Source: MedlinePlus, “CDC Lowers Lead-Poisoning Threshold for Kids,” May 16, 2012.