Health experts pooled data from blood samples of than 500 participants who grew up in the era of leaded gasoline. Research showed that participants who had more than 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood at age 11 had significant reductions in IQ points in adulthood. Researchers said participants who had high lead exposure exhibited IQs that were 4.25 points lower than less-exposed individuals at age 38.
The study also found a dose-dependent effect of lead exposure on the participant’s IQ levels. According to the study, each 5-microgram increase in blood lead levels coincide with up to 1.5 IQ point loss in participants. Lead gasoline exposure in childhood was also associated with lower socioeconomic status in adulthood. Researchers said study participants who had more than 10 micrograms of lead in the blood obtained occupations with socioeconomic status four-tenths lower than those who had less exposure.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the current lead exposure value that requires public health intervention is five micrograms per deciliter. Data from the longitudinal study showed that 94 percent of participants in the study exceeded this rate. The CDC also found that four million American households have children who are exposed to high levels of lead. According to the CDC, approximately half a million U.S. children ages one to five exhibit blood lead levels higher than five micrograms per deciliter.
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