Sustained fall in UK blood lead levels reported

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 11 July 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:99
  1. Scott Gottlieb, Clegg scholar
  1. BMJ

    Blood lead levels across all age groups in Britain are 80% lower now than they were 10-15 years ago, with most people now having “very low” blood concentrations, according to surveys conducted jointly by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions and the Department of Health.

    The findings, based on surveys of adults and children aged over 11 in the United Kingdom and of children from birth to age 4 in Bristol, are thought to be the result of lower concentrations of lead in petrol and paint and the removal of leaded solder from food cans and lead plumbing from homes.

    Although the average blood lead levels are low, some individuals have a significantly raised concentrations. Lead service pipes and household plumbing may be one lingering cause of raised blood concentrations, as well as old paint.

    The Department of the Environment is recommending that old lead paintwork in good condition should be sealed in with an overcoat of modern paint; paintwork in bad condition should be carefully removed.

    The best known hazards associated with exposure to lead are its effects on the central nervous system, including impaired brain development in children, and haematological effects.

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