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Lead limits

Lead is harmful at any dose; push is on to lower lead limits for Americans

Monday, March 10, 2014 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: lead limits, fluoridated water, harmful chemicals

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(NaturalNews) Every few years for the past half-century, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has progressively lowered the official threshold for what it considers to be "safe" exposure to lead. But during a recent evaluation, the agency determined that there really is no safe level of exposure to lead, and that the only way to ensure public safety is to continue lowering this threshold every four years until it eventually reaches zero.

It was previously believed that only higher exposures to lead through lead paint, lead piping and leaded gasoline, all of which have been phased out of use, were a threat to human health. But more recent assessments have found that even at levels within or well below the range of what was previously considered "safe," lead is still harmful, especially to developing children, who are the most prone to lead poisoning.

"In the 1960s, 60 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood was considered a dangerous reading for a child. In the 1970s, anything over 30 micrograms per deciliter was the official CDC definition for elevated childhood levels; in 1985 it dropped to 25, and in 1991 it dropped to 10," writes Cristy Gelling for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"Last year, the CDC endorsed a recommendation to use a shifting definition that would be lowered every four years, stating it cannot pinpoint a particular level of lead that is 'safe.'"

The study underpinning the CDC's new recommendations, out of the University of Pittsburgh, found that, even at miniscule exposure levels, lead obstructs childhood development and causes "obvious symptoms" such as lowered IQ and attention and behavioral problems. According to economist Werner Troesken, who led the new review, the latest data still shows that children exposed to lead at today's levels score lower on intelligence tests and suffer more low-level health problems during old age compared to non-exposed children.

Fluoridated water a major source of lead exposure

Based on these findings, the CDC decided to act on the recommendations of a federal advisory committee and lower the "level of concern" for lead exposure from 10 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) -- children with levels of lead exposure as low as 1.3 mcg/dL showed symptoms of lead poisoning -- to 5 mcg/dL.

But if lead has mostly been phased out of commercial use, what is the source of all this lead exposure today? A 2000 study out of Dartmouth University that was published in the journal Neurotoxicology found that public drinking water treated with artificial fluoride chemicals was directly associated with a higher uptake of lead in children.

Based on an analysis of more than 150,000 children six years of age and below living in New York City, Professor Roger D. Master and his colleagues found that, compared to children in unfluoridated communities, fluoridated children had noticeably high blood lead levels. Besides direct exposure to lead in paint and soil, water fluoridated with silicofluorides (SiFs) was the other primary cause of lead poisoning in the children.

"If SiFs are cholinesterase inhibitors, this means that SiFs have effects like the chemical agents linked to Gulf War Syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome and other puzzling conditions that plague millions of Americans," stated Masters following the publishing of his study.

More recent research out of the University of North Carolina (UNC) came to similar conclusions. Fluorosilicic acid, another common type of fluoride chemical, combines with chloramines in water to leach lead from water meters, solder and plumbing systems, a team from UNC's Environmental Quality Institute observed.

"Tests showed lead levels three and four times higher in water with that combination of chemicals," stated Dr. Richard P. Maas, Ph.D., lead author the study. "About 500 [water] systems, across the country, have switched to chloramine treatment since 2001... and most also use fluorosilicic acid."

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