Estimating the global burden of disease of mild mental retardation and cardiovascular disease from environmental lead exposure

Centre for Research into Environment and Health, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK.
Environmental Research (Impact Factor: 4.37). 03/2004; 94(2):120-33. DOI: 10.1016/S0013-9351(03)00132-4
Source: PubMed


The disease burden from exposure to lead resulting in mild mental retardation (due to IQ point decreases) and cardiovascular outcomes (due to increases in blood pressure) was estimated at a global level. Blood lead levels were compiled from the literature for 14 geographical regions defined by the World Health Organization according to location and adult and child mortality rates. Adjustments were applied to these levels, where appropriate, to account for recent changes relating to the implementation of lead-reduction programs and the lower levels seen in rural populations. It is estimated that mild mental retardation and cardiovascular outcomes resulting from exposure to lead amount to almost 1% of the global burden of disease, with the highest burden in developing regions. This estimate can be used to assess the magnitude of the benefits that could be accrued by increasing the global coverage of lead-reduction programs.

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Available from: Lorna Fewtrell
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    • "It can be harmful to humans when inhaled, ingested directly through the consumption of contaminated water, or ingested indirectly by consuming crops grown on contaminated soils or irrigated with contaminated water (Andra et al., 2006; Fewtrell et al., 2004). Diseases such as neurobehavioral impairment, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease in humans are attributed to excessive lead exposure, especially in developing children (Fewtrell et al., 2004). However, plants generally do not accumulate substantial amounts of Pb in tops or edible tissues (Chaney and Ryan, 1994). "
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    ABSTRACT: Concerns have been raised of possible human food chain transfer of lead and arsenic from crops grown on orchard soils with histories of lead arsenate use. The objective of this study was to determine arsenic and lead uptake by three cultivars of carrots grown on four orchard soils with histories of lead arsenate use. Total concentrations of arsenic and lead in these soils ranged from 93 to 291 and from 350 to 961 mg kg−1 for arsenic and lead, respectively. Arsenic in peeled carrot ranged from 0.38 to 1.64 mg kg−1, while lead ranged from 2.67 to 7.3 mg kg−1 dry weight. This study demonstrated that carrots will accumulate arsenic and lead in the root, which may become a human health risk when consumed. However, further studies are needed to determine what fraction of arsenic and lead in these carrots are bioavailable to humans when consumed.
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    • "Childhood lead exposure has long been of concern with respect to affecting IQ and other mental capacity. Studies have shown that impairment occurs even below the previously considered 'safe' target level of 10 µg/dl and that low environmental lead exposure may affect mortality [3] [4]. This absence of an identified blood lead level without deleterious effects has led CDC to remove their 'level of concern' value of 10 µg/dl and instead recommend that children with a blood lead level in excess of 5 µg/dl should receive on-going monitoring and interventions to reduce their lead exposure [5]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: To evaluate whether salivary lead can be used as a surrogate for blood lead, and if so, over what concentration range. Methodology: Three saliva devices were evaluated and one chosen to undertake this project. Paired saliva and blood samples were collected from 89 UK lead workers. Lead concentrations were determined using ICP-MS. In addition, haemoglobin and ZPP levels were determined in the blood samples and albumin was determined in the saliva samples to investigate standardisation using protein adjustments. Results: The chosen saliva device gave low but consistent recoveries for lead in saliva and the blank levels were low. The mean +/- SD blood lead level was 19.9 +/- 14 μg/dl; the mean +/- SD saliva lead level was 19.1 +/- 32.5 μg/l for 89 workers. Log10-transformed data showed correlation of r=0.69. The protein adjustments did not improve the blood-saliva correlation. Conclusions: This study has demonstrated that salivary lead measurement is feasible and correlated with blood lead levels, at least at occupational exposure levels, and may have value as a screening technique. Correlation may improve at environmental levels where exposures are generally more consistent and chronic, although this needs to be demonstrated in a genuine environmental population.
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    • "It can be said, therefore, that an additional 12 mg Pb per year from coffee would increase the intake considerably above these levels. Fewtrell et al. (2004) state that a range of adverse health outcomes can be attributed to lead, some inflicted at low concentrations (Fewtrell et al., 2004). Lead was estimated to account for 0.9% of the total global disease burden, due to lead-induced mental retardation and on consequences of increased blood pressure. "

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