Air Date: Week of November 3, 2000
Living On Earth’s Diane Toomey reports on a new study showing that exposure to lead on the job may lead to progressive brain damage that mimics the aging process.
TOOMEY: The harmful effects of lead on children are well known. Now comes word that occupational exposure to lead may cause progressive brain damage. Scientists followed a group of former lead manufacturing workers for four years. They measured the workers' lead levels in their bone and then tested them for such things as manual dexterity and verbal and visual memory. The researchers found that compared to a similar but non-exposed group of workers, the test subjects suffered greater declines in memory and learning ability. In fact, the more exposure to lead, the greater the decline, even after as many as 16 years since the last exposure. The researchers say the average decline in ability from lead exposure amounted to five years worth of premature aging of the brain. That's this week's health update. I'm Diane Toomey.
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