Environmental Lead Contamination as Eco-Terrorism and a Threat to Ecosystems and Public Health

Conference paper
Part of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security book series (NAPSC)

Abstract

Lead is an element that is non-essential and toxic to the physiology of living organisms. It exerts detrimental effects on the central nervous, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, reproductive, renal and immune systems, and causes cancer. Lead contamination also threatens the ecosystem of the planet reducing the availability of safe food and water. Thus, the continuous environmental lead pollution could be qualified as an act of eco-terrorism. Currently, the world population is still exposed to a dangerous level of environmental lead. Although, starting from 1976, the blood lead level (BLL) among the USA population is monotonically decreasing, it is asymptotically approaching the BLL of 1 μg/dL, suggesting a sustained human lead intake of about 25 μg/day. Such seemingly low BLLs are documented to be unsafe for adults and, especially, for children. In a majority of European and developing countries between 2003 and 2007, BLL in the population exceeded USA levels. The sources of lead in the environment, such as gasoline, paint, drinking water, food supplements, some recreational activities, etc., and the pathways of its worldwide distribution are analyzed here. Analysis of European data shows that, despite unequal atmospheric lead emission by European countries, atmospheric fallout is normally distributed among them with some countries emitting more lead than taking in. The total atmospheric fallout over Europe is two times more than total lead emission. This necessitates undertaking efforts towards strong international cooperation and collaboration in fighting environmental lead pollution.

Keywords

Environmental lead contamination Atmospheric emission Atmo-spheric fallout Lead Blood lead level Gasoline Lead-based paint Drinking water Public health 

References

  1. 1.
    Adler T (2004) Washington’s water woes. Environ Health Perspect 112:A735CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    American Academy of Pediatric Committee on Environmental Health (2005) Lead exposure in children: prevention, detection, and management. Pediatrics 116:1036–1046CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Anonymous (2008) Imported herbal medicine products known to contain lead, mercury, or arsenic. The City of New York, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. http://home2.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/lead/lead-herbalmed.pdf. Accessed 25 May 2010
  4. 4.
    Anonymous (2010) Grades of gasoline. Golos Moskvy. http://benzin.golosmsk.ru/publication/info/marki_avtomobilnogo_benzina.html. Accessed 23 May 2010
  5. 5.
    Anonymous (2005) Blood lead levels – United States, 1999–2002. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 54:513–516Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Anonymous (1997) Blood lead levels – United States, 1991–1994. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 46:141–146Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Anonymous (1982) Current trends blood-lead levels in U.S. population. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 31:132–134Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Anonymous (2009) Deaths linked to lead. Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg, 4 Jan 2009Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Basha MR, Murali M, Siddiqi HK et al (2005) Lead (Pb) exposure and its effect on APP proteolysis and Aβ aggregation. FASEB J 19:2083–2084Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bellinger DC, Needleman HL (2003) Intellectual impairment and blood lead levels. N Engl J Med 349:500–502CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bhatnagar A (2006) Environmental cardiology: studying mechanistic links between pollution and heart disease. Circ Res 99:692–705CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Bressler JP, Olivi L, Cheong JH et al (2004) Divalent metal transporter 1 in lead and cadmium transport. Ann NY Acad Sci 1012:142–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Brown MJ, Jacobs DE (2006) Sources of blood lead in children. Environ Health Perspect 114:A18–A19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Bryant SD (2004) Lead-contaminated drinking waters in the public schools of Philadelphia. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 42:287–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Englert N, Horing H (1994) Lead concentration in tap-water and in blood of selected schoolchildren in southern Saxonia. Toxicol Lett 72:325–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Environment Canada (2009) Environment Canada’s gasoline regulations. CEPA Environmental Registry http://www.ec.gc.ca/ceparegistry/documents/regs/leaded_gasoline/index.cfm. Acce­ssed 23 May 2010
  17. 17.
    Environmental Protection Agency (1996) Prohibition on gasoline containing lead or lead additives for highway use. Federal Register 61(23):3832–3838Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ettinger AS, Lamadrid-Figueroa H, Tellez-Rojo MM et al (2009) Effect of calcium supplementation on blood lead levels in pregnancy: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Environ Health Perspect 117:26–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Fadrowski JJ, Navas-Acien A, Tellez-Plaza M et al (2010) Blood lead level and kidney function in US adolescents: the third national health and nutrition examination survey. Arch Intern Med 170:75–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Fakhri AA, Wellenius GA, Aroesty JM et al (2010) Living near major roadways is associated with coronary atherosclerosis. Cardiovascular disease epidemiology and prevention 2010 conference, San Francisco, CA, 2–5 March 2010, Abstract P292Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Fanning D (1988) A mortality study of lead workers, 1926–1985. Arch Environ Health 43:247–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Fertmann R, Hentschel S, Dengler D et al (2004) Lead exposure by drinking water: an epidemiological study in Hamburg, Germany. Int J Hyg Environ Health 207:235–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Forbes LJ, Kapetanakis V, Rudnicka AR et al (2009) Chronic exposure to outdoor air pollution and lung function in adults. Thorax 64:657–663CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Galal-Gorchev H (1993) Dietary intake, levels in food and estimated intake of lead, cadmium, and mercury. Food Addit Contam 10:115–128Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Government of Canada (2007) Regulations amending the gasoline regulations. Canada Gazette 141(No 51). http://canadagazette.gc.ca/partI/2007-20071222/html/regle1-e.html. Accessed 5 March 2008
  26. 26.
    Greenwald I (1942) The solubility of calcium phosphate. II. The solubility product. J Biol Chem 143:711–714Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Greenwald I (1942) The solubility of calcium phosphate. I. The effect of pH and of amount of solid phase. J Biol Chem 143:703–710Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Hamilton EI (1974) The chemical elements and human morbidity-water, air and places – a study of natural variability. Sci Total Environ 3:3–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Harrison RM, Laxen DPH (1984) Lead pollution: causes and control. Chapman and Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Henretig FM (2006) Lead. In: Goldfrank LR et al (eds) Goldfrank’s toxicologic emergencies. McGraw-Hill, New York, pp 1308–1324Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Hoffmann B, Moebus S, Mohlenkamp S et al (2007) Residential exposure to traffic is associated with coronary atherosclerosis. Circulation 116:489–496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Hu H, Aro A, Payton M et al (1996) The relationship of bone and blood lead to hypertension. The normative aging study. JAMA 275:1171–1176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Hu H, Payton M, Korrick S et al (1996) Determinants of bone and blood lead levels among community-exposed middle-aged to elderly men. The normative aging study. Am J Epidemiol 144:749–759Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Hu H, Rabinowitz M, Smith D (1998) Bone lead as a biological marker in epidemiologic studies of chronic toxicity: conceptual paradigms. Environ Health Perspect 106:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Jusko TA, Henderson CR, Lanphear BP et al (2008) Blood lead concentrations <10 μg/dL and child intelligence at 6 years of age. Environ Health Perspect 116:243–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Kauffman JF, Westenberger BJ, Robertson JD et al (2007) Lead in pharmaceutical products and dietary supplements. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 48:128–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Kitman JL (2000) The secret history of lead: special report. The Nation. 20 March 2000Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Krebs J, Heizmann W (2007) Calcium-binding proteins and the EF-hand principle. In: Krebs J, Michalak M (eds) Calcium: a matter of life or death. Elsevier, Dordrecht, pp 51–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Lanphear BP, Dietrich K, Auinger P et al (2000) Cognitive deficits associated with blood lead concentrations <10 μg/dL in US children and adolescents. Public Health Rep 115:521–529CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Lee MY, Shin JH, Han HS et al (2006) In vivo effects of lead on erythrocytes following chronic exposure through drinking water. Arch Pharm Res 29:1158–1163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Manton WI (1985) Total contribution of airborne lead to blood lead. Br J Ind Med 42:168–172Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Mayan ON, Gomes MJ, Henriques A et al (2006) Health survey among people living near an abandoned mine. A case study: Jales mine, Portugal. Environ Monit Assess 123:31–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Menke A, Muntner P, Batuman V et al (2006) Blood lead below 0.48 μM/L (10 μg/dL) and mortality among US adults. Circulation 114:1388–1394CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Miller KA, Siscovick DS, Sheppard L et al (2007) Long-term exposure to air pollution and incidence of cardiovascular events in women. N Engl J Med 356:447–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Mills NL, Tornqvist H, Gonzalez MC et al (2007) Ischemic and thrombotic effects of dilute diesel-exhaust inhalation in men with coronary heart disease. N Engl J Med 357:1075–1082CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Mortada WI, Sobh MA, El-Defrawy MM et al (2001) Study of lead exposure from automobile exhaust as a risk for nephrotoxicity among traffic policemen. Am J Nephrol 21:274–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Muntner P, Menke A, DeSalvo KB et al (2005) Continued decline in blood lead levels among adults in the United States: The national health and nutrition examination surveys. Arch Intern Med 165:2155–2161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Narag RE, Pizarro J, Gibbs C (2009) Lead exposure and its implications for criminological theory. Crim Justice Behav 36:954–973CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Nash D, Magder L, Lustberg M et al (2003) Blood lead, blood pressure, and hypertension in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. JAMA 289:1523–1532CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    National Research Council and Committee on Estimating Mortality Risk Reduction Benefits from Decreasing Tropospheric Ozone Exposure (2008) Estimating mortality risk reduction and economic benefits from controlling ozone air pollution. http://www.nap.edu/catalog/12198.html. Accessed 22 May 2010
  51. 51.
    Navas-Acien A, Guallar E, Silbergeld EK et al (2007) Lead exposure and cardiovascular disease – a systematic review. Environ Health Perspect 115:472–482CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Nevin R (2000) How lead exposure relates to temporal changes in IQ, violent crime, and unwed pregnancy. Environ Res 83:1–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Nevin R (2007) Understanding international crime trends: the legacy of preschool lead exposure. Environ Res 104:315–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Neyer JR, Greenlund KJ, Denny CH et al (2007) Prevalence of heart disease – United States, 2005. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 56:113–118Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Nriagu JO (1972) Lead orthophosphates. I. Solubility and hydrolysis of secondary lead orthophosphate. Inorg Chem 11:2499–2503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Nriagu JO (1979) Global inventory of natural and anthropogenic emissions of trace metals to the atmosphere. Nature 279:409–411CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Nriagu JO (1996) A history of global metal pollution. Science 272:223–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Nriagu JO (1998) Tales told in lead. Science 281:1622–1623CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Omelchenko A (1991) Physico-chemical basis of specificity of metal cation binding to bilayer lipid membranes. VINITY, MoscowGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Omelchenko A (2009) Lead as an environmental cardiovascular risk factor. Periodicum Biologorum 111:91–98Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Omelchenko A (2009) Lead contamination as a factor of environmental terrorism: North American and European perspective. In: Dishovsky C, Pivovarov AA (eds) Counteraction to chemical and biological terrorism in East European Countries. Proceedings of the NATO advanced research workshop on counteraction to chemical and biological terrorism at a national and local level in the East European Countries, Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, October 14–17, 2008. Springer, Berlin, pp 35–47Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Patel MM, Hoepner L, Garfinkel R et al (2009) Ambient metals, elemental carbon, and wheeze and cough in New York City children through 24 months of age. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 180:1107–1113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Patrick L (2006) Lead toxicity, a review of the literature. Part 1: Exposure, evaluation, and treatment. Altern Med Rev 11:2–22Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Patterson CC (1965) Contaminated and natural lead environments of man. Arch Environ Health 11:344–360Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Perera FP, Li Z, Whyatt R et al (2009) Prenatal airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure and child IQ at age 5 years. Pediatrics 124:E195–E202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    Peters JL, Perlstein TS, Perry MJ et al (2010) Cadmium exposure in association with history of stroke and heart failure. Environ Res 110:199–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. 67.
    Peters JL, Weisskopf MG, Spiro A et al (2010) Interaction of stress, lead burden, and age on cognition in older men: the VA Normative Aging Study. Environ Health Perspect 118:505–510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. 68.
    Quinn MJ, Sherlock JC (1990) The correspondence between U.K. ‘action levels’ for lead in blood and in water. Food Addit Contam 7:387–424Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Rabinowitz MB (1991) Toxicokinetics of bone lead. Environ Health Perspect 91:33–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Regunathan S, Sundaresan R (1985) Effects of organic and inorganic lead on synaptosomal uptake, release, and receptor binding of glutamate in young rats. J Neurochem 44:1642–1646CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. 71.
    Rennie S (2008) Medical association forecasts sharp rise in air pollution deaths. The Canadian Press, OttawaGoogle Scholar
  72. 72.
    Roan S (2005) An unsavory addition to kids’ lunch boxes: lead. Los Angeles Times. 12 Sept 2005Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Rojas-Lopez M, Santos-Burgoa C, Rios C et al (1994) Use of lead-glazed ceramics is the main factor associated to high lead in blood levels in two Mexican rural communities. J Toxicol Environ Health 42:45–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. 74.
    Sallam I (2006) Health for peace and security. CV Netw 5:78–79Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    Saper RB, Kales SN, Paquin J et al (2004) Heavy metal content of ayurvedic herbal medicine products. JAMA 292:2868–2873CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. 76.
    Sathyanarayana S, Beaudet N, Omri K et al (2006) Predicting children’s blood lead levels from exposure to school drinking water in Seattle, Washington, USA. Ambul Pediatr 6:288–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. 77.
    Scheuhammer AM, Money SL, Kirk DA et al (2003) Lead fishing sinkers and jigs in Canada: Review of their use patterns and toxic impacts on wildlife, Canadian Wildlife Service Occasional Paper 108. Environment Canada, Ottawa, 48ppGoogle Scholar
  78. 78.
    Schober SE, Mirel LB, Graubard BI et al (2006) Blood lead levels and death from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: results from the NHANES III mortality study. Environ Health Perspect 114:1538–1541Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    Sharrett AR (1979) The role of chemical constituents of drinking water in cardiovascular diseases. Am J Epidemiol 110:401–419Google Scholar
  80. 80.
    Slobozhanina EI, Kozlova NM, Lukyanenko LM et al (2005) Lead-induced changes in human erythrocytes and lymphocytes. J Appl Toxicol 25:109–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. 81.
    Sokas RK, Simmens S, Sophar K et al (1997) Lead levels in Maryland construction workers. Am J Ind Med 31:188–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. 82.
    Stegavik K (1975) An investigation of heavy metal contamination of drinking water in the city of Trondheim, Norway. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 14:57–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. 83.
    Troesken W (2006) Lead exposure and eclampsia in Britain, 1883–1934. Environ Res 101:395–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. 84.
    Tsaih SW, Korrick S, Schwartz J et al (2004) Lead, diabetes, hypertension, and renal function: the normative aging study. Environ Health Perspect 112:1178–1182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. 85.
    Tuzen M, Soylak M, Parlar K (2005) Cadmium and lead contamination in tap water samples from Tokat, Turkey. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 75:284–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. 86.
    U.S. Energy Information Administration (2010) U.S. prime supplier sales volumes of petroleum products. http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_cons_prim_dcu_nus_m.htm. Accessed 21 May 2010
  87. 87.
    United States Geological Survey (2008) Lead shot and sinkers: weighty implications for fish and wildlife health. Science Daily http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080711125733.htm. Accessed 25 May 2010
  88. 88.
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1991) Safe drinking water act lead and copper rule (LCR). Fed Reg 56:26460–26564Google Scholar
  89. 89.
    Vilagines R, Leroy P (1995) Lead in drinking water, determination of its concentration and effects of new recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) on public and private networks management. Bull Acad Natl Méd 179:1393–1408Google Scholar
  90. 90.
    Wiebe L (2007) Lead fears prompt Fisher-Price recall. Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg, 3 Aug 2007Google Scholar
  91. 91.
    Wilhelm M, Eberwein G, Holzer J et al (2005) Human biomonitoring of cadmium and lead exposure of child-mother pairs from Germany living in the vicinity of industrial sources. J Trace Elem Med Biol 19:83–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. 92.
    Williams DR (1971) The metals of life: the solution chemistry of metal ions in biological systems. Van Nostrand-Reinhold, London, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  93. 93.
    Wood S (2008) Cardiovascular effects of air pollution, even in the comfort of home. http://www.theheart.org/article/921369/print.do. Accessed 24 May 2010
  94. 94.
    World Bank (1998) Phasing out lead from gasoline: world-wide experience and policy implications. World Bank technical paper No 397. World Bank, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  95. 95.
    World Health Organization (1995) Lead. Environmental Health Criteria. Geneva: World Health Organization, Paper 165Google Scholar
  96. 96.
    World Health Organization-Europe (2007) Blood lead level in children. ENHIS: European Environment and Health Information System, Fact Sheet No 4.5 Code: RPG4_Chem_Ex1Google Scholar
  97. 97.
    Yin X, Liu X, Sun L et al (2006) A 1500-year record of lead, copper, arsenic, cadmium, zinc level in Antarctic seal hairs and sediments. Sci Total Environ 371:252–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physiology, Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, St. Boniface General Hospital Research CentreUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

Personalised recommendations