Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access


Surendra Dutt Sharma, Charu Sharma


Lead poisoning, is now, considered the most preventable public health problem. Childhood lead exposure produces psychosocial and cognitive morbidity and its neurological and behavioral consequences are, now, well known. In this paper, many of the overt multi systematic effects of moderate to high levels of lead exposure are discussed. However, the current low blood lead levels (BLLs) in children are associated with neurodevelopmental deficits. Environmental lead exposure in children with maximum BLLs even below 7.5 g/dL is associated with intellectual deficits and as such no level of lead exposure appears to be safe. A correlation between developmental exposure to lead and adult criminal behavior has been established. Further, the estimates of the social and economic benefits of ‘lead hazard control’ suggest that the high cost of reducing lead exposure in the society is a retarding factor in combating the problem.
Inspite of the legislative efforts and some other preventive measures, the best hope of mitigating the impact of lead toxicity in children is the primary prevention of exposure to lead. Some remedial measures are suggested for the same.

Keywords: Lead poisoning, Children and Adolescents, Environmental poison, Health hazard, Remedial measures

Full Text:



M. Mellvaine, F. Mosammat, N. Prum, Lead Poisoning. The silent epidemic affecting poor and minority children in urban areas, The Traprock, 3 (2004) 33–36.

S.C. Gilfillan, Lead Poisoning and the fall of Rome, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 7(2) (1965) 53–60.

S.D. Sharma, Charu Sharma, Lead Poisoning– The Roman scenario and today’s world, Material Science Forum, Trans Tech Publication Ltd. Switzerland, 842 (2016) 46–52.

Michael J. Cosnett, R.T. Watson, M. Fuller, M. Pokras, W.G. Hunt (Eds.), Health effects of low dose lead exposure in adults and children, and preventable risk posed by the consumption of Game meat harvested with lead ammunition. Ingestion of lead from spent ammunition: Implications for wildlife and Humans. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, Idaho, U.S.A. DOI 10.4080/ilsa. 2009. 01, 03.

K.R. Mahaffey (Ed.), Metabolic and cellular effects of lead: a guide to low toxicity in children. In Dietary and Environmental exposures to lead, Elsevier/ north Holland, Biomedical press, Amsterdam, 1985, 157–185.

A. Etchevers, A.L. Tetre, J.P. Lucas, P.Bretin, Y. Oulhote, B.L. Bot, P. Glorennec, Environmental determinants of different blood lead levels in children: A quantile analysis from a nationwide survey, /10.1016/J.envint.2014.10.007.

Z.Gao, J. Cao, J. Yan, J. Wang, S. Cai, C. Yan. Blood lead levels and risk factors among preschool children in a lead polluted area in Taizhou, China, Hindawi Bio Med Research International Vol. 2017, Article ID 4934198, 8 pages.

O.M. Ajayi, A.E. Odusanya, A Review paper on lead exposure and poisoning in Nigerian children: The way forward, Elixir pollution, 70 (2014) 23808-23811.

L. Nelson: Lead poisoning and the children of Cuyahoga county (A Community Development Brief, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland (US), August 2016).

C.M. Taylor, J. Golding, A.M. Emond, Adverse effects of mental lead levels on birth outcomes in the ALSPAC study: A prospective birth cohort study, BJOG, 122 (2015) 322–328.

J.Neugebauer, J.Wittsiepe, M.K.Sonenberg, N.Schöneck, A.scholmerich, M. Wilhelm, The influence of low level pre and perinatal exposure to PCDD/Fs, PCBs, and lead on attention performance and attention-related behavior among German school–aged children: Results from the Duisburg Birth Cohort Study, Int. J. Hyg. Environ. Health, 218 (1) (2015) 153–162.

J.T. Nigg, A.L. Almore, N. Natarajan, K.H. Friderici, M.A. Nikolas, Variation in an Iron Metabolism Gene Modrates the Association between blood lead levels and Attention– Deficit/ Hyperactivity disorder in Children, Psychological Science, 27(2) (2016) 257-269.

M.Daneshparvar, S.A. Mostafavi, M.Z. Zeddi, M. Yunesian, A. Mesdaghinia, A.H. Mahvi, S. Akhondzadeh, The role of Lead exposure on Attention– Deficit/ Hyperactivity disorder in Children: A systematic review, Iran J. Psychiatry, 11 (1) (2016) 1–14.

Severe lead poisoning in children: Causes and risk factors, J. Pediatrics, Cincinnati, OH, Oct. 19, 2016.

Lead exposure in childhood linked to lower IQ, lower status jobs, as adults- Leaded gasoline creates a natural experiment in long–term study, Duke University, JAMA, 317 (12)(2017) 1–8.

A. Evens, D. Hryhorezuk, B.P. Lanphear, K.M. Rankin, D.A. Lewis. L. Forst, D. Rosenberg, The impact of Low–level lead toxicity on school performance among children in the Chicago Public Schools: A population–based retrospective cohort study, Environ. Health, (2015) 14:21, DOI 10.1186/s 12940-015-0008-9.

S.J. Rothenberg et al., Increased ERG a –and b – wave amplitudes in 7–10 year old children resulting from prenatal lead exposure, Invest opthalmol vis sci, 43 (2002)2036–2044.

L.D. White et al., New and evolving concepts in the neurotoxicology of lead, Toxicol Appl Pharmacol, 225 (2007) 1–27.

D.C. Bellinger, Neurological and Behavioral Consequences of Childhood Lead Exposure, PLoS Med 5(5) e 115. doi: 10.1371/Journal. pmed. 0050115 (2008).

I. H. Wilson, S. B. Wilson, Confounding and causation in the epidemiology of lead, Int. J. Environ. Health Research, 26 (5–6) (2016) 467–82.

E. Gould, Childhood lead poisoning: Conservative estimates of the social and economic benefits of lead hazard control, Environmental Health perspect, 117 (7) (2009) 1162–1167.

D.C. Bellinger, Very low Lead exposures and children’s Neurodevelopment, Curr Opin Padiatra., 20 (2008). 172–177.

B. P. Lanphear et al., Low-level environmental lead exposure and children’s Intellectual Function: An International Pooled Analysis, Environmental Health Perspectives, 113(7) (2005) 894–899.

J.Schwartz. Societal benefits of reducing lead exposure, Environmental Research, 66 (1) (1994) 105–124.

K.N. Dietrich et al., Early exposure to lead and juvenile delinquency, Neurotoxicol Teratol, 23 (2001) 511–518.

K.M. Cecil et al., Decreased brain volume in adults with childhood lead exposure, PLoS Med 5 (2008)e112. doi: 10.1371/Journal. pmed. 0050112.

J.W. Reyes, Lead exposure and behavior: Effects on antisocial and risky behavior among children and adolescents, NBER working paper number. 20366, Aug. 2014, JEL no 118, J13, K49, Q53, Q58. Cambridge, MA 02138 (2014).

M.P. Taylor, M.K. Forbes, B. Opeskin, N. Parr, B.P. Lanphear. The relationship between atmospheric lead emissions and aggressive crime: an ecological study, Environmental Health, 15: 23 (2016) DOI: 10.1186/s 12940-016-0122-3.

V.R.Mohan, S. Sharma, K. Ramanujam, S.Babji, B. Koshy, J.D. Bondu, S.M. John, G. Kang, Effects of elevated blood lead levels in preschool children in Urban Vellore, Indian Pediatrics, 51 (2014) 621–625.

American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Environmental Health. Pediatric environmental health, 2 ed. Illinois: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2013.

World Health Organization, Childhood lead poisoning, Geneva: WHO: 2010.

V. Kalra, K.J. Chitralekha, T.Dua, R.M. Pandey, Y. Gupta. Blood Lead levels and risk factors for lead toxicity in children from schools and an urban slum in Delhi, J. Trop. Pediatr., 49 (2003) 121–123.

V. Kalra, J. Sahu, P. Bedi, R.M. Pandey, Blood Lead levels among school children after phasing out of leaded petrol in Delhi, Indian J. Pediatr., 80 (2013) 636–640.

N.B. Jain, H. Hu. Childhood correlates of Blood lead levels in Mumbai and Delhi, Environ Health Perspect., 114 (2006) 466–470.

R. Albalak, G. Noonan, S. Buchaman, W.D. Flanders, C.G. Crawford, D. Kim et al., Blood lead levels and risk factors for lead poisoning among children in Jakarta, Indonesia. Sci. Total Environ., 301 (2003) 75– 85.

J. Schwartz, Low level lead exposure and children’s IQ: A meta analysis and search for a threshold, Environ Res., 65 (1994) 42–55.

Agency for Toxic substances and disease registry, Toxicological profile for lead, Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human services; 1999.

S.Turgut, A. Polai, M. Inan, G. Turgut, G. Emmungil, M. Bican et al., Interaction between anemia and Blood levels of iron, zinc, copper, cadmium and lead in children, Indian J. Pediatr., 74 (2007) 827–830.

M.A., Zolaly, M. L. Hanafi, N. Shanky, K.E.C. Harbi, A.M. Mohamadin. Association between blood lead levels and environmental exposure among Saudi school children in certain districts of Al–Madinah, Int. J. Gen. Med., 5 (2012) 355–364.

H.L. Needleman, A. Schell, D. Bellinger, A. Leviton, E.N. Allred, The long–term effects of exposure to low doses of lead in childhood. An 11 year follow–up report, N. Eng. J. Med., 322 (1990) 83–88.

W.G. Sciarillo, G. Alexander, K.P. Farrell, Lead exposure and child behavior, Am. J. Public Health, 82 (1992) 1356–1360.

S.L. Pocock, M. Smith, P. Baghurst, Environmental lead and children’s intelligence: A systematic review of the epidemiological evidence, BMJ, 309 (1994) 1189–1197.

A. Chen, B.Cai, K.N. Dietrich, J. Radcliffe, W.J. Rogan, Lead Exposure, IQ, and Behavior in urban 5- to 7-year-olds: Does Lead affect Behavior only by Lowering IQ? Pediatrics, 119(3) (2007) e 650-e658. DOI:10:1542/Peds. 2006-1973.

R. Nevin, How lead exposure relates to temporal changes in IQ, Violent Crime and unwed Pregnancy, Res. A 83 (2000) 1–22.

K. Palaniappan, A. Roy, K. Balakrishnan, L. Gopalakrishnan, D. Mukherjee, H. Hu. Lead exposure and visual– motor abilities in children from Chennai, Neurotoxicology, 32 (2011) 465–470.

R.D. Baker, F.R. Greer, Diagnosis and prevention of Iron deficiency and Iron deficiency anemia in infants and young children (0–3 years of age), Pediatrics, 126 (2010) 1040–1050.

Childhood lead poisoning: Information for advocacy and action, A study conducted by UNEP– UNICEF information series, copyright 1997 UNEP and UNICEF, ISBN 92–807–1658–0, Page 1–20.


  • There are currently no refbacks.