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Sources of lead in the urban environment.
Am J Public Health 1983 Dec; 73(12):1357-1358
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.
NIOSH-Author; Environmental-pollution; Environmental-exposure; Lead-absorption; Lead-poisoning; Clinical-symptoms; Automotive-exhausts; Industrial-emissions; Paints; Soil-analysis
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
Issue of Publication
American Journal of Public Health
Page last reviewed: June 15, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division