An article published in The Lancet this week examined low levels of lead and heart disease deaths. By using the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III) they found a significant association between low levels of lead and heart disease mortality.
Praedicat follows the scientific literature on lead closely and continues to highlight it as among our highest risks. Lead has resulted in litigation over the years, but many insurers believe this is entirely a legacy exposure. Lead levels are regulated in drinking water and other exposures to lead (paint, gasoline, pesticides) have been eliminated. Are humans still being exposed to lead from current products?
One current exposure is lead in food, even high amounts of lead in processed food and beverages. A recent blog post by the Environmental Defense Fund highlighted the fact that the FDA proposed a 40ppb limit for lead in grape juice to the Codex Alimentarius Commission, part of the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization and World Health Organization, this week. The present limit for lead in grape juice is 50ppb, so decreasing the limit by 10 ppb is a step in the right direction. However, as the blog author points out this proposed 40ppb limit is 2.6 times higher than the 15ppb limit for drinking water established by the Environmental Protection Agency. It is also 8 times higher than the 5ppb limit for bottled water established by the FDA.
Exposure to lead results in a wide range of detrimental health effects. It causes various neurological deficits ranging from neuromotor injuries to mental processing. Lead has also been indicated in kidney disease. Now, heart disease can be added to the long list. Though high exposure to lead may be something of the past, low exposure to lead is still prevalent and may end up being just as deadly.
Low-level environmental lead exposure is an important, but largely overlooked, risk factor for cardiovascular disease mortality in the USA.