From the New York Times:
For the first time in 20 years, federal health authorities have lowered the recommended limit for lead exposure in young children, which they say could add 200,000 children to those believed to have unsafe lead levels in their blood.
The new standard, announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday and applicable to children under 6, lowers the threshold to 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, from 10 micrograms per deciliter.
High lead levels in young children have been found to affect cognitive development and may lead to a lower I.Q.
Nationwide, about 450,000 children have lead levels higher than the new standard, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which approved the change, based on a committee recommendation. About 250,000 children had high lead levels using the old standard, said Christopher Portier, director of the agency’s National Center for Environmental Health.
Dr. Portier said that the new standard was based on the lead levels in the highest 2.5 percent of children and that it represented a shift in policy, to a public health approach focusing on prevention, from a more clinical approach to lead poisoning.
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