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Only One ChanceHow Environmental Pollution Impairs Brain Development -- and How to Protect the Brains of the Next Generation$
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Philippe Grandjean

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199985388

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199985388.001.0001

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Invisible Lead

Invisible Lead

(p.30) Chapter 3 Invisible Lead
Only One Chance

Philippe Grandjean

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   Gasoline additives, Health hazard, Lead exposure, Poisoning, Tetraethyllead

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