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Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2004 Feb;15(2):119-29.

[Effects of lead exposure on the human body and health implications].

[Article in Portuguese]

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Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública (ENSP), Centro de Estudos da Saúde do Trabalhador e Ecologia Humana (CESTEH), Rio de Janeiro (RJ), Brasil.



To review the literature concerning the risks associated with exposure to lead and lead compounds, especially in children and in populations that are occupationally exposed.


Using "chumbo" [lead] and "efeitos" [effects] as search terms, two large databases, namely PubMed (United States National Library of Medicine) and LILACS (Literatura Latino-Americana e do Caribe em Ciências da Saúde [Latin American and Caribbean Literature in the Health Sciences]), were searched for studies on lead toxicity from 1988 to 2002. Other sources used to conduct the search include the web page of the United States Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, in Atlanta, Georgia, and the library of the Toxicology Laboratory of the Center for Workers' Health and Human Ecology at the National School of Public Health [Centro de Estudos da Saúde de Trabalhador e Ecologia Humana, Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública], Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


The toxic effects of lead and lead compounds have been extensively studied for over a century. In recent years, epidemiologic studies have focused primarily on the neurotoxic effects of lead on children, particularly in terms of impaired intellectual ability and behavioral problems. However, there is still insufficient information on the mechanisms of action that account for such toxicity. More in-depth studies are also needed on the effects of lead exposure on bone, the central nervous system, the cardiovascular system, the kidneys, the liver, the male and female reproductive systems, and the endocrine system. The potential teratogenicity and carcinogenicity of lead, as well as its effect on pregnancy outcomes and neonatal growth and development, also require further study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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