One in five deaths is linked to lead pollution, scientists reveal

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One in five deaths is linked to lead pollution, scientists reveal

A history of lead exposure may be linked to more than a quarter of a million deaths from heart disease each year.

The largest lead concentrations found in the study were 10 times higher.

Prof Lanphear said: "Our study calls into question the assumption that specific toxicants, like lead, have "safe levels", and suggests that low-level environmental lead exposure is a leading risk factor for premature death in the US, particularly from cardiovascular disease".

A link between lead exposure and high blood pressure has been established for decades now, but this is the first time the magnitude of such an effect on cardiovascular mortality has been established, according to Bruce Lanphear, a professor of health sciences at Simon Fraser University and lead author of the study.

"Lead represents a leading cause of disease and death, and it is important to continue our efforts to reduce environmental lead exposure", Lanphear said.

People with high blood levels had a 70 percent greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than those with lower levels. But if we're underestimating the impact of lead exposure on cardiovascular disease mortality and other important outcomes beyond IQ, then it might have a big impact on the way we make investments in preventing lead poisoning exposure.

"Estimating the contribution of low-level lead exposure is essential to understanding trends in cardiovascular disease mortality and developing comprehensive strategies to prevent cardiovascular disease".

"Our study calls into question the assumption that specific toxicants, like lead, have "safe levels", and suggests that low-level environmental lead exposure is a leading risk factor for premature death in the U.S., particularly from cardiovascular disease", Professor Lanphear said.

The researchers called for more aggressive measures to retire contaminated housing, phase out lead-laden jet fuels, replace lead pipes in plumbing, and reduce emissions from smelters and lead battery factories.

Canadian scientists studied over 14-thousand older adults exposed to lead-based paints or other products before they were banned.

Lead was undetectable in the blood of almost one in 10 of the volunteers tested.

They were not, however, able to factor out the possible impact of exposure to arsenic or air pollution. The results from the study said that low-levels of lead exposure, between one and five micrograms per decilitre of blood, can increase the risk of premature death.

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