Lead Poisoning Linked to Low Test Scores

We have long been writing on the connections between lead exposure and <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/lead_paint_poisoning">lead poisoning to adverse health effects. Now, an emerging study is pointing to the connection between lead and lowered test scores and reduced brain function. According to MLive.com, the study found that over half of the students who tested with a history of lead poisoning could be experiencing lowered scores common in that area—the Detroit Public Schools—because of lead.

The revolutionary research, which was conducted by the city health department and the Detroit Public Schools, looked at lead data and test scores and found that higher lead levels correlated to a worsening of scores on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) exam, said Freep.com.

Of the 39,000 students tested, 22,755 had a history of lead poisoning, said Freep.com, citing the study. Worse, of the 39,199 students who underwent testing as small children, only a very tiny fraction—23 students in all—tested with no lead in their bodies, said Freep.com. Even worse, last year, Detroit students tested with the lowest math scores in the history of the National Assessment of Education Progress standardized test, Freep.com pointed out.

That startling discovery resulted in a nationwide call-to-action, said Freep.com. Also, Robert Bobb, the state appointed Emergency Financial Manager began developing a so-called academic turnaround plan, wrote Freep.com.

Not only is Detroit know for its lead poisoning history—it often is responsible for more than half of all of its state’s lead poisoning cases—a city health inspector was indicted in early May on allegations he took bribes from renters and homeowners whose homes registered with high lead levels, said Freep.com.

A known neurotoxin, lead exposure can cause brain and nervous system damage in children and fetuses. The toxin also causes behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, headaches, mental and physical retardation, and behavioral and other health problems. Of particular concern is the developing brain because negative influences can have long-lasting effects and can continue well into puberty and beyond. Lead is known to cause cancer and reproductive harm and, in adults, can damage the nervous system. In high doses, lead poisoning can cause seizure, coma, and death. Once poisoned by lead, no organ system is immune; experts agree that there is no safe level of lead.

Lead poisoning is the greatest environmental health threat to children under the age of six. Poisoning occurs from swallowing lead (i.e. lead paint chips) or from breathing lead paint dust. Even small amounts of chipped lead paint or lead dust can be dangerous to children. Children under six face these great risks because their growing bodies absorb lead more easily than adult bodies do.

Millions of American children are affected by lead poisoning. Children who live in old, poorly maintained housing or in housing that has undergone renovation face the greatest risk. Children exposed to flaking or peeling paint chips face the greatest risk of lead disease.

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