The environment contains many sources of lead from paint and construction materials such as decorative lead ceilings to the solder in copper water pipes.
Recent cases of lead poisoning from food include candy and imported spices.
A new study published in the February issue of Neurotoxicology indicates that drinking green tea along with a meal high in lead may protect against lead poisoning. Researchers found that when green tea was consumed along with a chemical known as lead acetate, the chemical caused less damage to the brain and nervous system than when the lead acetate was administered alone.
For the study, five groups of rats were fed placeboes, lead acetate, lead acetate along with green tea, solely green tea for one month, or lead acetate for one month, followed by green tea for 15 days.
Lead is controlled in processed food in the United States. The total of all heavy metals, including lead, should not exceed 10 parts per million (ppm) in any food ingredient, according to EMSL Analytical, a lead testing firm that publicized the study.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that candy manufacturers limit lead levels to 0.1 ppm. However, imported products, such as spices and powders, pose a particular threat, because many countries do not share the United States’ standards concerning lead.
Children are at the greatest risk for lead poisoning, because they are still developing and their small bodies would contain higher concentrations than adults. Possible complications resulting from lead poisoning are learning disabilities, mental retardation, behavioral problems, lowered intelligence, stunted growth, and hearing impairment.
Source: Neurotoxicology, EMSL Analytical, Inc.