Lead remains a hazard for children, alumnus writes in Pediatrics

Public health systems still are failing to prevent lead poisoning in children, Bruce Lanphear, M.D. ’86, writes in an editorial in the journal Pediatrics.

Bruce Lanphear, M.D. ’86

Lanphear, whose research on lead poisoning put him in the national spotlight when the lead crisis in Flint, Mich., came to light, said children in hundreds of other cities had blood lead levels higher than the children of Flint.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health, Lanphear said, “recommends greater emphasis on screening children’s environments to identify lead hazards before a child is poisoned, using tools to sample and test house dust, soil, or water for lead.”

He also said pediatricians could push for lead abatement in older homes and regulations to cut environmental hazards. Testing of chemicals to establish their safety before they can be released into the environment also should be required, Lanphear said, but prospects for such regulation are dim.

The editorial accompanied research by others finding that, as lead levels have declined in many areas, testing labs are having trouble accurately detecting low levels of lead in children’s blood. There appears to be no safe threshold for lead exposure, especially in children, so detection at low levels is still important.

Lanphear also was one of three School of Medicine alumni whose work was reported last year in a UMKC Medicine article.