Blacks are said to be more exposed to Lead, do you know about deteriorating paints?

Emobileclinic Health News

Emobileclinic Reporter: Femi Fayomi

Lead are everywhere around us.  They are present in little things we take for granted. I don’t think there is anyone who does not know that some paints do deteriorate as time goes , never thought it could be dangerous to health and this is  just one of the items that exposes you to lead.  The harmful nature of Lead was expressed in a recent article published on NEJM,  written by Dr David Bollinger from Harvard Medical school and Department of environmental health, Harvard T.H on the tragic recent episode in Flint, Michigan City where lead poisoning caused serious health problems to the inhabitant of the city.


The study revealed that the most susceptible group to lead poisoning is the politically and economically disenfranchised population. In Flint, 4 in 10 families live below the poverty line, unemployment is high, and the majority of the population are blacks. In general, disadvantaged children are exposed to more lead than their wealthier counterparts because they are more likely to live in houses in poor repair that still harbor deteriorating lead paint, to live in urban neighborhoods with greater soil and dust lead concentrations from traffic and industrial activities, and to have nutritional deficiencies that increase lead absorption.

The awareness of the dangers of lead exposure necessitated the enactment of the Industrial hygiene act passed in 1723 which prohibited the use of lead in the apparatus used to distill rum, because “the strong liquors and spirits that are distilled through leaden heads or pipes are judged on good grounds to be unwholsom and hurtful”.

In the study, there was dramatic reduction over the last four decades in blood lead levels in the U.S. population and this feat remains as one of the cardinal public health success stories. It was achieved largely by phasing out lead as a gasoline additive and restricting the amount of lead permitted in paint.

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According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no safe level of lead, particularly for children. The reference blood lead concentration for children set by 5jμg per deciliter, is meaningful only for risk stratification.

Available record on Flint Water Study website revealed that the Michigan City in 2014 began taking its water from the Flint River rather than Lake Huron in order to save cost. However, there were many sharp practices perpetrated by the consultant hired by the state, it was reported that the corrosion-control treatments required by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead and Copper Rule1 were discontinued, the addition of ferric chloride to reduce the formation of trihalomethanes from organic matter increased the corrosivity of the Flint River water. The water reaching consumers was therefore 19 times as corrosive as it had been when the source was Lake Huron. The more corrosive water is, the more readily it can dissolve metals such as lead. So the lead concentration in Flint’s water began to rise.

The study reported that children are more vulnerable to lead than adults because of their greater fractional absorption of ingested lead and greater intake on a body-weight basis and because development of the central nervous system is easily derailed in ways that result in cognitive and behavioral abnormalities. When lead concentrations in water are high, infants consuming reconstituted formula are at special risk.

Lead contamination of drinking water poses a particular public health challenge at the point of consumption, especially in lead service pipes connecting the house to the water main or lead pipes, lead solder, or lead brass fixtures in the home. Large-scale contamination generally occurs when changes are made in water-treatment protocols without consideration of the effect of those changes on the amount of lead that will leach from these materials.

It was further revealed that the decision to switch water suppliers was made by a state-appointed emergency manager rather than local officials, who might have been better positioned to make a decision reflecting concern for public health as well as the bottom line. Although the cost of repairing Flint’s water infrastructure is uncertain, estimates range as high as $1.5 billion. The cost of reducing the corrosivity of the Flint River water at the time of the change would have been minimal, perhaps $100 per day; proving again that prevention is generally cheaper than remediation and treatment.

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Dr Bellinger calls on the political class to show more commitment in the provision of good public health system to the less privileged in the society and thereby redressing this social crime.

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