Lead exposure linked to heart disease and IQ decline in MILLIONS

While lead-based paint was banned for residential use in the United States in 1978, the lingering effects of lead exposure are still making an impact on public health. According to a study, lead exposure can increase the risk of heart disease and contribute to a decline in childhood IQ.

For the study published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health, a team of researchers funded by the World Bank analyzed country blood lead level estimates from the 2019 Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study.

After measuring and estimating the scope and economic cost of lead-related IQ loss and heart disease deaths over a five-year observational period, the research team discovered that worldwide, children younger than five years old who came from low- to medium-income families lost a collective 765 million IQ points, or almost six points per child, a figure that is 80 percent greater than previous estimates.

Because IQ loss is linked to an income reduction of about two percent per point, this suggests that affected children may experience a lifetime income loss of almost 12 percent and an annual global income loss of $2.4 trillion, with the burden falling heavily on low-income countries. (Related: Scientists link LEAD EXPOSURE in early life to higher risk of CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR in adulthood.)

The researchers also said more than 5.5 million adults died from heart disease in 2019 due to lead exposure.

The study revealed that the global health and economic cost of lead exposure in 2019 was $6 trillion. About three-quarters of this figure was because of the impact of cardiovascular disease mortality, with the remaining quarter due to the “present value of future income losses from IQ loss.”

How to reduce your family’s risk of lead poisoning

If you’re worried about your family being exposed to lead, avoid these potential routes of lead exposure:

  • Air
  • Drinking water
  • Dust
  • Soil
  • Ayurvedic and alternative medicines not purchased from trusted sources
  • Certain cosmetics
  • Children’s jewelry
  • Imported canned food
  • Firearms with lead bullets
  • Imported candies and foods
  • Lead-glazed art, including ceramics, china and pewter
  • Workplace exposure (depending on your occupation)

According to Dr. Bryan Kuhn, a pharmacist and poison education specialist with Banner Health, inhaling dust from lead-containing paint or ingesting paint chips, bullets, lead solder, fishing weights, or contaminated well water all pose a risk.

Fortunately, you can take measures to avoid lead poisoning in children. This includes storing products that contain lead out of reach and sight of children to help significantly decrease the likelihood of ingestion.

You should also take precautionary measures to reduce the odds that you and your family will be poisoned by lead.

If your home was built before 1978, you may need to:

  • Have your home inspected for lead-based paint hazards, if you haven’t already done so.
  • Keep your house well-maintained and clean to minimize lead particles in dust.
  • Hire certified contractors who follow lead-safe work practices before starting renovations or repairs around your home.
  • Always wash your hands and clean toys and surfaces regularly, especially before eating, after playing outside and at bedtime.

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