Emerging aspects of assessing lead poisoning in childhood

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Jones, AL (2009)

This review covers the epidemiology of lead poisoning in children on a global scale. Newer sources of lead poisoning are identified. The methods that are used to assess a population of children exposed to lead are discussed, together with the ways of undertaking an exposure risk assessment; this includes assessing the time course and identifying sources of lead exposure. Human assessment measures for lead toxicity, such as blood lead concentrations, deciduous tooth lead, and use of zinc protoporphyrin estimations are evaluated. The role of isotopic fingerprinting techniques for identifying environmental sources of exposure is discussed. Among emerging data on the cognitive and behavioral effects of lead on children, the review considers the growing evidence of neurocognitive dysfunction with blood lead concentrations even below 10 mg/dl. The challenge of assessing and explaining the risk that applies to an individual as opposed to a population is discussed. Intervention strategies to mitigate risk from lead are examined together with the limited role for and limitations of chelation therapy for lead. Lessons learned from managing a population lead-dust exposure event in Esperance, Western Australia in 2007 are discussed throughout the review. (Published: 13 May 2009) Emerging Health Threats Journal 2009, 2:e3. doi: 10.3134/ehtj.09.003
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