If you were born before 1996, there's a good chance you were exposed to high levels of lead as a kid, and new research suggests this may have harmed your IQ and boosted your chances of lead-related health concerns down the road.
"A significant proportion of Americans alive today had very high lead exposure as children, and millions had lead levels that were even three, four or five times higher than the cut-off for clinical concern as children," said study author Aaron Reuben, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Duke University in Durham, N.C.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently changed this cut-off to 3.5 µg/dL, suggesting that even more people may be at risk for health issues due to childhood lead poisoning.
Lead can reach the bloodstream if it is inhaled as dust, ingested or consumed in water. From there, it can pass into the brain through the blood-brain barrier.
Exposure to lead declined dramatically when the use of leaded gasoline was banned by the Clean Air Act in 1996, but anyone born before this and those folks born in the 1960s and 1970s when leaded gasoline use was at its peak may have had high lead exposures as kids, Reuben noted.