Home Nutrition Food Why You Don’t Want “Normal” Blood Lead Levels

Why You Don’t Want “Normal” Blood Lead Levels

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“By the 1950s, lead—a dangerous neurotoxin that was once buried deep in the ground, far away from humans—had polluted the entire planet.” We have leaded gasoline to thank for this. It’s onerous to think about “a better strategy for maximizing population exposure to a poison than to have it emitted by a ubiquitous mobile source and to line the surfaces of dwellings” and our neighborhoods with it.

“Overall, about 5 million metric tons of lead was deposited in the environment as a result of the combustion of leaded gasoline” by our cars earlier than it was regulated. A single busy avenue may obtain greater than a metric ton a 12 months, and the lead simply constructed up, decade after decade. Finally, due to laws beginning within the 1970s, we stopped spewing a lot into the air. As you may see at 0:57 in my video “Normal” Blood Lead Levels Can Be Toxic, as lead use dropped, so did the degrees of lead in our blood, leading to a 98 p.c discount within the proportion of younger youngsters with elevated blood lead ranges. Of course, the time period “elevated” is relative.

“Prior to 1970, lead poisoning was defined by a blood lead concentration of 60 mg/dL or higher” however “since then, the blood lead concentration for defining lead toxicity gradually has been reduced” to 40 mg/dL, then 30 mg/dL, then 25 mg/dL, after which additional all the way down to 10mg/dL, as lead ranges “previously thought to be safe or inconsequential for children have consistently been shown to be risk factors” for cognitive and behavioral issues.

Currently, an elevated blood lead stage is taken into account to be greater than 5 mg/dL. So, below 5 mg/dL, your lead stage is taken into account to be non-elevated or regular. But what does having a “normal” lead stage imply?

“Virtually all residents of industrialized countries have bone lead stores that are several orders of magnitude greater than those of our preindustrial ancestors.” If you go to a museum and take a look at the lead ranges of historic skeletons buried a millennium in the past, they’re a thousand occasions decrease in comparison with individuals immediately, “which indicates the probable existence within most Americans of dysfunctions caused by poisoning from chronic, excessive overexposures to industrial Pb lead.”

You can see a graphical illustration of “body burdens of lead” in a preindustrial ancestor, a typical American citizen, and a person with overtly symptomatic lead poisoning, the place he could be doubled over in ache, at 2:30 in my video. What the medical and analysis communities had failed to know is that they’d solely involved themselves with individuals with precise lead poisoning and people at “typical” lead ranges, however “the new value for natural lead levels in [preindustrial] humans shows that typical levels of lead in humans are quite definitely not properly described by the term ‘very low levels’ at all, but instead constitute grossly excessive, 1000-fold over-exposure levels.”

 The backside line? “No level of lead exposure appears to be ‘safe’ and even the current ‘low’ levels of exposure in children are associated with neurodevelopmental deficits,” together with diminished IQ. It may have been rather a lot worse if we hadn’t started proscribing leaded fuel. Thanks to falling blood lead ranges beginning within the 1970s, preschoolers born within the 1990s have been two to 5 IQ factors larger than children like me born earlier than 1976. So, after we see our children and grandkids being such wizzes at expertise that it’s onerous to maintain up with them, a small a part of which may be them not struggling as a lot lead-induced mind injury as we did. And, what which means for the nation is doubtlessly lots of of billions of {dollars} of improved productiveness as a result of our youngsters are much less brain-damaged.

If that looks like rather a lot for just some IQ factors, as you may see at 4:26 in my video, what you must understand is that even a small shift in common IQ may end in a 50 p.c enhance within the variety of the “mentally retarded,” thousands and thousands extra in want of particular schooling and providers.

So, “removal of lead from gasoline in the United States has been described as one of the great public health achievements of the 20th century, but it almost did not happen.” Indeed, “tremendous pressure by the lead industry itself was brought to bear to quiet, even intimidate, researchers and clinicians who reported on or identified lead as a hazard.” Decent “scientists and health officials faced enormous opposition but never lost sight of the mandate to protect public health.”

Two of the “young, idealistic employees” on the newly shaped Environmental Protection Agency, who performed key roles within the struggle, recount how “naïve [they were] to the ways of Washington”:

“Our youth was also used against us. Our inexperience was cited as a reason for rejecting the lead regulatory proposals….Finally, in retrospect, our youth and inexperience also helped us to succeed in taking on a billion dollar industry. We were too young to know, that regulating lead in gasoline was impossible.”


What about lead publicity after childhood? That’s the subject of my video The Effects of Low-Level Lead Exposure in Adults.

What can we do about lead publicity? See:

  • How to Lower Lead Levels with Diet: Thiamine, Fiber, Iron, Fat, Fasting?
  • How to Lower Lead Levels with Diet: Breakfast, Whole Grains, Milk, Tofu?
  • Best Foods for Lead Poisoning: Chlorella, Cilantro, Tomatoes, Moringa?
  • Best Food for Lead Poisoning: Garlic
  • Can Vitamin C Help with Lead Poisoning?
  • Yellow Bell Peppers for Male Infertility and Lead Poisoning?
  • How to Lower Heavy Metal Levels with Diet.

If you missed the primary three movies on this sequence, take a look at:

For the consequences of mercury, one other heavy steel, see:

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t but, you may subscribe to my free movies right here and watch my reside shows:

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