Science Article Criticizes Federal Policy Regarding Lead Exposure And Children's Health

CINCINNATI--Federal policies regarding residential lead poisoning favor the lead industry or economic concerns at the expense of children's health, according to an article by a physician from Children's Hospital Medical Center of Cincinnati in the September 11 edition of the journal Science.

These federal standards regarding prevention of lead in the home ignore existing scientific evidence and are unlikely to protect inner-city children from lead poisoning, according to Bruce P. Lanphear, M.D., M.P.H., division of general and community pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's, and associate professor of pediatrics.

"The results of numerous studies argue that efforts to prevent lead poisoning should emphasize primary prevention - the elimination of residential lead hazards before children are unduly exposed," says Dr. Lanphear. "Yet, our efforts continue to focus on secondary prevention -- screening children for elevated blood lead levels and controlling lead hazards after a child has been unduly exposed. It's time to establish a scientifically based strategy to eliminate lead toxicity by controlling residential lead hazards."

In an article titled The Paradox of Lead Poisoning Prevention, Dr. Lanphear argues that there are three paradoxes in proposed EPA standards. The first is that the effects of lead exposure are largely irreversible, "yet we wait until children are exposed before taking action," says Dr. Lanphear. Second, proposed EPA standards set floor dust at too high a level, thereby not protecting children, according to Lanphear. Third, even though we rely on secondary prevention, there is limited data showing it to be either safe or beneficial for the vast majority of children with elevated blood lead levels, he says.

Lanphear says it is critical to expand efforts to identify and eliminate residential lead hazards before children are exposed to them. Prevention strategies should contain

Contact: Jim Feuer
(513) 636-4420
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

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