Exposure to lead affects brain

Monday, 19 January, 2009

Recent research from the US shows that workers exposed to lead over their working lives have subtle cognitive effects later in life.

According to the study titled Association of Cumulative Lead and Neurocognitive Function in an Occupational Cohort, published by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh in 2009, men with higher cumulative lead exposure had significantly lower cognitive scores, particularly on spatial ability, learning and memory, as well as greater cognitive decline.

The exposure had a significant impact on men older than 55 but not on younger men. The report commented: “Although the developing brain is known to be especially susceptible to lead toxicity, these findings suggest the aging brain is vulnerable as well.”

The study involved workers from a lead battery plant and a comparison of findings with those of workers at a nearby truck chassis factory where there was no documented exposure to lead or other neurotoxic chemicals.


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