Lead Exposure Responsible For Ten Times More Deaths Than Thought
Lead Exposure Responsible For Ten Times More Deaths Than Thought
A new study concludes that nearly 30 percent of all US deaths due to cardiovascular disease “could be attributable to lead exposure”
15 March, 2018, 00:28
"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 United States of America, particularly from cardiovascular disease", Lanphear added. "And instead of it being 40,000 deaths, which is what had previously been estimated, we found that it was about 10 times that".
"Lead represents a leading cause of disease and death, and it is important to continue our efforts to reduce environmental lead exposure", Lanphear said. All participants underwent a medical examination and a test on their lead level.
An worldwide study has found that low-level lead exposure could be responsible for 30 per cent of premature deaths from cardiovascular disease in the United States.
People with the highest lead levels had a 37% greater risk than normal of a premature death and a 70% greater risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
Researchers followed almost 14,300 participants for two decades and discovered that despite previous studies suggesting that low-level lead exposure did not increase the risk of premature death, this might not be the case.
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People are more likely to suffer health complications from smoking, but lead exposure is far more common.
In a press release, the authors noted some limitations to their research, "including that their results rely on one blood lead test taken at the start of the study and therefore can not determine any effect of further lead exposure after the study outset". "The time has come to end inattention to the contribution of pollution to mortality from non-communicable diseases and to thoroughly re-examine lead's role in changing global patterns of cardiovascular disease".
"Public health measures such as abating older housing, phasing out lead-containing jet fuels, replacing lead-plumbing lines and reducing emissions from smelters and lead battery facilities will be vital to prevent exposure".
The link held even at low-level exposure to lead. And adult exposure to lead even at levels so low that they've been considered relatively benign is actually deadly enough to be considered a leading cause of death in the US.
The study's authors noted that outside factors could lead to "overestimation of the effect of concentrations of lead in blood, particularly from socioeconomic and occupational factors". "The authors were also unable to control for all potential confounding factors, such as exposure to arsenic or air pollution, which are also risk factors for cardiovascular disease". An increase of lead concentration in the participants' blood from 1 µg/dL to 6.7 µg/dL, was linked to ischemic heart disease mortality (HR = 2.08; 95% CI, 1.52-2.85, or 185,000 deaths a year); CVD mortality (HR = 1.7; 95% CI, 1.3-2.22, or 256,000 deaths a year); and all-cause mortality (HR = 1.37; 95% CI, 1.17-1.6). However, because lead can contribute to conditions such as high blood pressure and hardening of arteries, it is also believed to contribute to cardiovascular and heart disease.
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