LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News vol 8 no 2, 2001, ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News ( ISSN 1440-0561)
The Journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.

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Fully Referenced Expanded Version of
"New strategies needed to cut lead pollution",
Guest Article, Science and Technology Column, Canberra Times,
Thursday 25th January 2001

Lead - From The Petrol Bowser To Blood And Bone - part 5

by Elizabeth O'Brien, National Coordinator of The LEAD Group and
Mariann Lloyd-Smith, Coordinator of the National Toxics Network

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A RESPONSE TO: "Lead may be dead but we've been had"

PDF version of this file: New strategies needed to cut lead pollution

Lead and ageing - from bones back into blood

Yet, the position could be even worse for all those of us who were around during the greatest period of lead poisoning of the general population. Following absorption of lead into the bloodstream, the body stores lead in bone and as we age - or during pregnancy and breastfeeding (Gulson et al 1997; Gulson et al 1998) the bone lead stores can be returned to the blood enabling the lead to do more damage (Balzer, 2000). Lead released from the bones adds to the lead currently being absorbed from the environment and recirculates via the blood stream for a second round of negative impacts on hearing, balance, memory, blood pressure, libido, sperm production, haem synthesis, vitamin D metabolism, kidney function etc. Lead speeds up brain aging (McKinney, 2000; Schwartz et al, 2000) and has recently been found to be associated with Alzheimer's disease (American Academy of Neurology, 2000; CNN.com, 2000).

With so many people having higher blood lead levels in the past than today, it is little wonder that we associate aging with many of these effects of lead poisoning - poor memory, falls (from loss of balance), loss of libido, strokes and heart attacks (from high blood pressure), tooth decay, Alzheimer's disease. It is fair to say that all these effects of lead add up to a reasonable description of what we think of as "normal" aging and it is certainly time that we measured blood lead levels in older people who display these symptoms before discounting their symptoms as just "a natural part of getting old". This is such an important issue that the Lead Advisory Service Australia recently created an information pack on "Lead and Aging", available by phoning 1800 626 086.

PDF version of this file: New strategies needed to cut lead pollution

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