For the first time in 20 years, an advisory panel to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging the government to lower the threshold for lead poisoning in children.
A vote earlier this week by the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention lowered the definition of lead poisoning for young children from 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood to 5 micrograms. The CDC has accepted all of the panel’s recommendations in the past, so it's likely that they'll accept this one as well.
The last time this lead level threshold was lowered was in 1991. The panel argued that the latest research supports the idea that children could be experiencing harm at even lower lead levels than previously thought. So it's frightening to think about the number of lead poisoning cases that might have slipped through over the past 20 years. Too much lead is harmful to developing brains and can cause a lower IQ in children. If the new threshold is adopted, hundreds of thousands of new cases of lead poisoning in children are expected.