If an individual has been exposed to high levels of lead in childhood, they may end up with a lower intelligence quotient (IQ), and hence lower earning potential, according to a recent study.
Blood lead levels as low as 5 micrograms per deciliter can lower the IQ, as per earlier studies by World Health Organization (WHO). Lead exposure can also damage the developing nervous system in children.
Latest WHO Findings
The latest study examined data on IQ, cognitive function, and socioeconomic status for 565 adults aged 38 years in New Zealand, and results from their childhood blood tests for lead were compared. The participants with childhood blood lead levels over 10 micrograms/dl were found to have average adult IQ test scores 4.25 points lower than those with less childhood lead exposure
‘The normal trend for this generation is for sons and daughters to achieve better occupations than their parents. But amongst those with elevated lead levels, the trend was the opposite,’ said senior study author Terrie Moffitt of Duke University. ‘Much of this could be attributed to the IQ effect,’ he added.
David Bellinger, an expert at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, stated that high levels of childhood lead exposure could further lead to impaired attention, as well as ‘impairments of executive function, and different forms of social pathologies.’
Causes of Lead Exposure
Lead is a metal that may be found in children’s products made of vinyl or plastic, including lunch boxes, backpacks, and car seats. Children can also be exposed to lead through tap water due to lead-soldered pipes releasing particles into tap water. Lead-based paint on walls, although banned in some countries, can be another cause of lead exposure.
Food can be a further cause of lead exposure. For example, lead can leak into canned foods from lead-soldered tins. Food can also become contaminated with lead during the production phase e.g. vegetables may be grown in lead containing soil.
Source: Fox News