No safe level of lead exposure: NHMRC

An NHMRC evidence review has found exposure to even small amounts of lead that result in a blood lead level of 5mcg per decilitre or less – once thought to be of little concern – should raise a red flag.  

A 2009 NHMRC public statement suggested that having a blood lead level of 10mcg per decilitre or higher warranted investigation.

But Associate Professor Sophie Dwyer, executive director of the Health Protection Unit at Queensland Health and chair of the committee that authored the report, said levels below 5mcg per decilitre had been associated with adverse cognitive effects in children. 

Levels below 10mcg per decilitre are associated with adverse behavioural effects in children, hypertension in adults and delay in sexual maturation and puberty in adolescents.

She said these findings were “suggestive rather than definitive” and that confounding factors like socioeconomic status, parenting style and