2017 January 07
originally posted on facebook

With the worldwide banning of leaded gasoline and the banning of leaded paint in the US and EU, I was under the impression that chronic environmental exposure to lead was largely a thing of the past. This is mostly true in the US, where blood lead levels have plummeted since the 70s, with the levels observed in Flint, MI today being substantially below the average for children in the 60s and 70s.

So I was disturbed to learn today that exposure to lead still kills over 100 000 people per year, and is blamed for intellectual disability in 600 000 children per year. Leaded paint is commonly used in India and China today, and in India lead is often found in spices and sometimes added to medicine or ceremonial powders. Tests of three samples of sindoor (a cosmetic) purchased in Boston and imported from India found all to be 50% lead by weight.


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