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Points of Potential IQ Lost From Lead

Jeffrey J. Sacks, MD, MPH; Sue Binder, MD
JAMA. 1990;264(17):2212. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450170060016.
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To the Editor.—  What is society's loss from exposure of children to lead? Simple enumeration of children with overt intoxication, encephalopathy, or death from lead exposure does not reflect the full spectrum of lead's biologic effects and damage. Among lead's most insidious effects is its poisoning of the developing nervous system, as measured by a decrease in the IQs of children with even low-level lead exposure.1,2 In an attempt to quantify the more subtle effects of lead exposure, we propose a new measure—points of potential IQ lost from lead (PPIQLLs).We combined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES II) and the 1980 census to estimate national PPIQLLs in 1980 for children 6 months through 5 years of age. Conducted from 1976 through 1980, the NHANES II provides the most recent data on blood lead levels for a representative sample of the US population. On


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