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March 28, 2017

Childhood Lead Exposure and Adult Outcomes

Author Affiliations
  • 1Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Harvard Medical School, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2017;317(12):1219-1220. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.1560

The discovery that the water in Flint, Michigan, was contaminated with lead shows that excessive exposure to this toxic metal remains a threat to human health. The episode resulted from a series of poor decisions by politicians that allowed lead to leach from pipes and fixtures into the water flowing into residents’ homes. But Flint is by no means unique with regard to lead hazards. A 2016 report identified 3000 US communities in which the percentage of children with a blood lead concentration greater than 5 μg/dL, the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reference value, exceeded that among affected children in Flint.1