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Lead is a neurotoxicant with no threshold for its effect, meaning that we have not found a “safe” level of lead. Humans first started using lead approximately 8000 years ago and the toxicity of lead has been known for about 2500 years.
Despite this, lead has been in widespread use because of its physical properties (water resistant, malleable, melts easily). Children in Ohio are most often exposed to lead through deteriorating lead-based paint in pre-1978 housing. Since
lead exposure is a long-standing environmental justice issue, children of color and lower income children are more likely to be exposed.
Researchers in the UC Center for Environmental Genetics have been actively researching lead for many years. The Cincinnati Lead Study that started in 1979, is the longest, continuously active prospective study of lead exposure and child health and development in the world. Some of the key findings include: the lack of a “safe” level for lead, how lead impacts the structure
and function of the brain through adulthood, and the increased risk for incarceration for adults who were exposed to lead as children. We are indebted to all the people who were willing to participate in this study over the past 40 years, without
their dedication, it would not have been possible. The University of Cincinnati pioneered the study of health effects of lead 100 years ago.
Here is a list of recent peer-reviewed publications from CEG authors.
Looking for more information regarding lead exposure?
Concerned about lead in your community? The Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit at the University of Illinois at Chicago has created a guide for community members.
Please feel free to contact us and a member of the CEC staff will follow-up with you.