Sources of lead (7439921) in the urban environment are reviewed. Severe lead poisoning was diagnosed among inner city children in the United States in the late 1960s. With the recognition that lead based paints were frequent causes, increased emphasis on prevention led to a reduced number of severe cases of lead toxicity. Sources of lead were carefully scrutinized. Blood lead levels previously considered typical for urban areas were associated with adverse effects. The investigation of lead concentrations in inner city soil demonstrated the high lead values consistent with contamination through leaded gasoline and traffic density. Lead from the environment is transferred through food and other routes of ingestion particularly in children who put items in their mouths more frequently. The extent of general contamination of the food supply by lead in dust and dirt is emphasized by studies from areas remote from smelters or highways showing a lower concentration of lead than found in food available to average Americans. The maximal permissable intakes of lead in the range of 100 to 150 micrograms a day were based on health effects recognized in the mid 1970s. Reducing environmental lead pollution decreases human lead exposure. A 37 percent decline in blood lead values was observed in the United States population between 1976 and 1980. Reduced pollution from leaded gasoline is the most probable explanation. The author recommends continued population screening and atmospheric pollution controls.
Kathryn R. Mahaffey, PhD, Division of Standards Development and Technology Transfer, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Robert A. Taft Laboratories, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226
We take your privacy seriously. You can review and change the way we collect information below.
These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.
Cookies used to make website functionality more relevant to you. These cookies perform functions like remembering presentation options or choices and, in some cases, delivery of web content that based on self-identified area of interests.
Cookies used to track the effectiveness of CDC public health campaigns through clickthrough data.
Cookies used to enable you to share pages and content that you find interesting on CDC.gov through third party social networking and other websites. These cookies may also be used for advertising purposes by these third parties.