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There is no safe amount of lead

Consumer Reports News: May 24, 2011 03:31 PM

Duke University researchers studying Connecticut school children discovered that those who had ingested even small amounts of lead years earlier did worse on fourth grade reading and math tests than children who had never been exposed.

Greater exposure meant lower scores, but even children with exposure below established dangerous levels had lower scores than those with no exposure at all.

Connecticut state education officials asked the Children’s Environmental Health Initiative at Duke to conduct this study, following similar findings in North Carolina.

The researchers also uncovered a racial divide among lead poisoning cases, with black children more likely to suffer from lead poisoning before age 7 than white children. Connecticut has the largest reading and math achievement gap between the races of any state.

Lead in house paint has been banned in the U.S. since 1978, but as we’ve been reporting, it still can be found in vinyl, and metal jewelry. Lead poisoning in children is associated with behavioral problems, learning disabilities, hearing problems, and growth retardation.

The CDC says that childhood lead poisoning has been steadily decreasing and the agency even set a goal for its complete elimination by 2010. But in some areas of the country, such as the Northeast, where there are still many older buildings with lead-based paint and dust (particularly in poorer urban neighborhoods), lead poisoning is still very much a threat to children.

A federal law that went into effect last fall requires that contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and trained to follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. The Environmental Protection Agency recently charged a contractor in Rockland, Maine with allegedly violating requirements for containing lead dust and debris on a renovation job in a four-unit building where at least six children were living. EPA investigators were tipped off to the violations via a YouTube video.

You can report an environmental violation to the EPA.

Read more: protect your family from lead.

Desiree Ferenczi

   

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