Lead is the chemical with the best documentation of health hazards. However, lead poisoning was first thought of as a potentially life-threatening disease, which, in survivors, left no trace at all. Supported by industrial interests, many doctors and researchers ignored signs of brain damage and helped minimizing the perception of lead toxicity. The use of lead-containing gasoline additives (tetraethyllead) was at first greeted as the “gift from God” that prevented the knocking of automobile engines. It took several decades to recognize the health and safety risks. By now, we have documented lead toxicity even at exposures that were long thought to be safe. The chemical brain drain is therefore continuous and becomes more serious at higher exposures. Seemingly low levels of exposure may therefore not be safe.
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