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TUCoPS :: Wetware Hacking :: Others :: lead_iq.txt

Can removing lead from the blood raise IQ?

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                         Copyright 1993 Newsday, Inc.

                    April  7, 1993, Wednesday, NASSAU EDITION

Other Edition: Suffolk Pg. 21, City Pg. 27

LENGTH: 518 words

HEADLINE: Ridding Blood of Lead  May Raise IQ




   Federally funded research into combating childhood lead 
poisoning suggests that removing the lead from children's blood 
can result in improvement in IQ tests.

   A related study on the best way to spend limited federal dollars 
has found that removing lead-contaminated soil from the yards of 
single-family homes is not worth the money.

   Both studies are reported in this week's issue of the Journal of the 
American Medical Association.

   Researchers at Albert Einstein Medical College of Medicine and 
Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx found that removing lead 
from children's blood resulted in improved IQ scores among 
children who had moderately high levels of lead.

   "When there is a high level of lead, there is no question that there 
can be brain damage. But it is not so clear with these kids with 
moderate levels," said Holly Ruff, a professor of pediatrics at Albert 

   The researchers found that the standardized test scores of 
children aged 1 to 6 improved by one point for every 3-microgram 
decrease in their blood-lead level. The measurement was taken 
seven weeks after the children had undergone medical treatment to 
remove the lead. A blood-lead level of 10 micrograms per
deciliter is considered dangerous. The children tested had levels of 
between 25 and 55 micrograms, according to JAMA. According to 
the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the research 
will be used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 
drawing up standards that will determine what level of lead in soil 
is dangerous.

   In Boston, after spending $ 9,600 per household to truck 15 tons of
lead-contaminated soil out of the yards of 126 Boston households in 
1989, researchers concluded it was not worth the money, said 
author Dr. Michael Weitzman, a pediatrician and researcher at 
Rochester General Hospital. "The results did not support the belief 
that soil removal would be prudent," he said yesterday. "We found 
only a modest decrease in the level of lead in children's blood."

   The CDC is awaiting results of related studies of lead-
contaminated soil removal in Cincinnati and Baltimore, said Dr. 
Sue Binder, a researcher with the CDC's lead poisoning branch. 
"The Superfund is struggling with the question of what is an 
appropriate soil-lead level and this study shows soil removal has
very little effect," she said.

   Weitzman said his study did not mean that soil removal was 
always ineffective. "It might make more sense in a setting such as 
New York City, where you would have thousands of kids playing 
in the same area of dirt," he said. Weitzman said he felt funds 
would best be spent in controlling household dust, removing old 
windows with their hard-to clean surfaces, and removing leaded
paint or using new technology to seal it.

   "In a situation like the Williamsburg Bridge soil, though, you 
might want to dig it up," he said, because of the large number of 
children who might be exposed. The city came under fire last fall 
when it was discovered that sandblasting of the Williamsburg 
Bridge had apparently contaminated some nearby areas, including 


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