QUESTION: Comparison of average lead levels between U.S. and Broken Hill residents,
03 Dec 2005, Queensland Australia
Dear Lead Group,
Later this month I will be relocating from Cairns to Broken Hill in NSW. I have family living there with children, 7yo and 8yo and their rising lead levels concern me. I asked my GP to run some blood checks to have my lead level checked with the results back next week and I will have another check in about 6 months time. Is there any possible way of telling me what the average lead level is for a healthy male adult (myself 41yo)? What is normal and what is excessive and also what levels should healthy children have and what levels could cause them harm as I have read some terrible stories how high lead levels can affect a young child's brain development and can cause growth problems.
Many thanks for your time and I hope you can help me with my questions, Hoping to hear from you soon.
ANSWER: 12 Dec 2005
Dear Clay Tenni,
There are currently no statistics that have been aggregated for the Australian public to compare their mean blood-lead levels, but given the fact that Australia is about 7 years behind the U.S in lead poisoning awareness (including the phase out of leaded petrol), I have provided you the average blood-lead levels across the U.S population as recorded by the NHANES III and IV reports conducted between 1991-1994, and 1999- 2002:
Among U.S adults (male) aged between 20-59 years, the mean blood lead level was 2.9 µg/dl (2.7-3.1)
Among U.S. children (both sexes) aged between 6-19 years, the mean blood lead level was 1.7 µg/dl (1.5-1.8)
(The number of children sampled were 2,960, and the number of male adults sampled were 2,365)
Adults (male) 20-59 years, mean blood level 2.0 µg/dl (1.9- 2.0) Children 6-19 years (both sexes), mean blood level 1.1 µg/dl (1.1- 1.2)
(The number of children sampled were 6,283, and the number of male adults sampled were 2,689)
In some literature, "extreme" elevated blood-lead levels are generally considered to start at 10µg/dL, however there is a growing amount of research arguing that harmful health effects in young children can begin at levels as low as 2µg/dL. As stated by the U.S. Federal government itself in 2002, there is generally no "safe" blood-lead level for children: "there is no apparent threshold below which adverse effects of lead do not occur," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), quoted by Peter Montague, Rachel's Environment & Health News #827 - Pediatricians Urge a Precautionary Approach to Toxic Lead, September 25, 2005).
Anyone with a level that exceeds 2µg/dL may therefore be at an increased risk of harm.
I hope this information is helpful, and best of luck with your results in the forthcoming months.
system lead poisoning |
LEAD Project | egroups | Library
- Fact Sheets | Home
Page | Media Releases
Newsletters | Q & A | Referral lists | Reports | Site Map | Slide Shows - Films | Subscription | Useful Links | Search this Site
Updated 16 June 2012
Copyright © The LEAD Group Inc. 1991- 2012
PO Box 161 Summer Hill NSW 2130 Australia
Phone: +61 2 9716 0014