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QUESTION: Are you aware of any researcher interested in bone & tooth lead results from the father of retarded children? 24 Nov 2007 Massachusetts, USA

 Dear Madam or Sir:

I am writing on behalf of my aunt, Mrs. Margaret Riva.

All of my cousins were born in the 1930s and were moderately mentally retarded.  At that time, my late uncle was working as a plumber. Suffice it to say, no OSHA regulations regarding job-related lead exposure were in place, and my uncle was likely exposed to significant levels of lead on or about the time of his children's conception.

My Aunt denies exposure to lead over and above that which anyone living in the age lead piping and paint would have been exposed to.  The fact that she had no miscarriages, and that all of my cousins were carried to term and normal birth weight strongly support her story.

On or about the time of the birth of her second child, my cousin Carol (1937), my aunt reports that my uncle had a gastrointestinal illness that at the time was diagnosed as either Peptic Ulcer Disease or viral.  He was placed on a milk and cream and the condition resolved in a few weeks. In retrospect, my uncle's symptoms are suggestive of lead colic. The fact that it was self-limiting would tend to suggest that it was not PUD. In fact, the calcium-rich 'milk' diet on which he was placed may very well have chelated the lead from his system.

For decades, it was my aunt's belief that her children’s retardation was caused by my uncle's exposure to lead.

My uncle passed away three years ago, my aunt obtained bone and tooth samples.  We had them tested, and they demonstrated elevated lead levels.

Are you aware of any researcher who would be interested in obtaining this data

Very truly yours,

ANSWER: 25 May 2009

Dear Paul,

There are a couple of researchers I can think of immediately, in North America, who could be VERY interested in the lead results of the samples if you have not already found someone.

They are:

Prof David Chettle, Professor, Medical Physics & Applied Radiation Sciences, Department of Physics and Astronomy, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, phone +1 905 525 9140 ext. 27340

Prof Howard Hu, Director and Professor of Public Health Sciences, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, phone +1 416 978 8989

As a point of interest, "treating" lead exposure by providing free milk to lead workers is now outdated except in the most backward occupational settings. The milk apparently fills the gut and although it provides some calcium, it limits the person's desire to eat solid nutritious foods which are essential for the other nutrients which either chelate lead, eg vitamin C, or which ensure adequate iron, zinc or calcium such that the body is less likely to absorb lead (which the body mistakes for iron, zinc and calcium). I'd be very keen to hear back from you on your progress in sorting out this mystery.

Yours Sincerely
Elizabeth O'Brien,

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