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

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


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.


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


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© 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

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