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Lead poisoning; Lead based paint; Lead--Environmental aspects


Geochemical studies demonstrate large-scale increases of lead in the general environment. A principal source of this contamination has been traced to the use of tetraethyl lead in gasoline. It is not clear at the present whether these increased levels of lead cause chronic insult to the general population. On the other hand, lead poisoning in young children because of lead based paint flakes in deteriorating housing has been well-documented in many inner-city areas. Between 5 and 10 percent of children (between the ages of one and six) living in sub-standard housing in Chicago, Cleveland, and Baltimore show symptoms of lead-poisoning.

In a survey by the authors in a low-income housing section of Minneapolis, 40 percent of the dwelling units visited had paint flakes with greater than 1 percent lead by weight. Comparable studies in other cities have linked paint flakes with lead-poisoning. In the present study, diagnostic and clinical aspects of lead-intoxication are discussed, and methods of screening young children for high body burdens of lead are reviewed.

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