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Environ Health Perspect. 1993 Apr;100:177-87.

Lead toxicity: current concerns.

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1
Department of Pathology, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.

Abstract

Over the 20-year period since the first issue of Environmental Health Perspectives was published, there has been considerable progress in the understanding of the potential toxicity of exposure to lead. Many of these advances have been reviewed in published symposia, conferences, and review papers in EHP. This brief review identifies major advances as well as a number of current concerns that present opportunities for prevention and intervention strategies. The major scientific advance has been the demonstration that blood lead (PbB) levels of 10-15 micrograms/dL in newborn and very young infants result in cognitive and behavioral deficits. Further support for this observation is being obtained by prospective or longitudinal studies presently in progress. The mechanism(s) for the central nervous system effects of lead is unclear but involve lead interactions within calcium-mediated intracellular messenger systems and neurotransmission. Effects of low-level lead exposure on blood pressure, particularly in adult men, may be related to the effect of lead on calcium-mediated control of vascular smooth muscle contraction and on the renin-angiotensin system. Reproductive effects of lead have long been suspected, but low-level effects have not been well studied. Whether lead is a carcinogen or its association with renal adenocarcinoma is a consequence of cystic nephropathy is uncertain. Major risk factors for lead toxicity in children in the United States include nutrition, particularly deficiencies of essential metals, calcium, iron, and zinc, and housing and socioeconomic status. A goal for the year 2000 is to reduce prevalence of blood lead levels exceeding 15 micrograms/dL.

PMID:
8354166
PMCID:
PMC1519587
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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