By Treven Pyles
Posted on February 02nd, 2022
While exposure to cadmium, arsenic, lead, and mercury implies serious health risks, lead is one of the more powerful heavy metals. It causes neurotoxicity faster than other toxic metals, and it wreaks havoc on the developing brain and nervous system of children. Lead is one of the most studied heavy metals to date.
As a naturally occurring element, lead is a very toxic metal, exposure to which can result in numerous severe health issues. The heavy metal is present in the air, soil, water, and surprisingly, in our homes. Most lead exposure is the consequence of human activities such as the use of fossil fuels, including the past use of leaded gasoline, the activity of some industrial facilities, and the past use of paint containing lead on the walls of residential buildings. Furthermore, lead can be found in ceramics, pipes, plumbing, solders, gasoline, batteries, ammunition, and cosmetics.
Babies are more vulnerable to the negative health impact of lead because they have a higher rate of uptake of nutrients by the gastrointestinal tract, incompletely developed blood-brain barrier, and undeveloped detoxification system. The health problems regular exposure to lead might cause include the following in adults, children, and pregnant women:
Although there is no safe concentration of lead in the blood, as many as 500,000 children between 1 to 5 across the country have blood concentrations of lead above the safe limit, which is 5 mcg/dL. There is a strong connection between exposure to lead from toxic baby food and autism. Once it enters the body, lead acts as a neurotoxin, damaging the brain and nervous system of the child. Because it is a neurotoxin, lead can easily cross the blood-brain barrier and reach the cerebral matter, where it will settle, slowly causing neurodevelopmental problems. Lead accumulation in the brain makes it susceptible to neurotoxic actions that occur by mechanisms such as a buildup of damaged molecules and compromised DNA repair.
The Environmental Defense Fund, a non-profit environmental advocacy group, analyzed 11 years of Food and Drug Administration data. It found that infant and toddler food is a meaningful and surprising source of lead. The key findings of the study are the following:
To put it differently, 2,164 baby food samples and the other 10,064 food samples had trace levels of lead. At least one sample in 52 out of the 57 types of baby food tested by the Food and Drug Administration had detectable lead concentrations in it. Interestingly, lead was most commonly found in these baby foods:
Finally, what the Environmental Defense Fund recommends to the Food and Drug Administration is that the agency makes sure lead is not present in any food contact material where it is reasonably expected to get into food, makes clear that the international standards for fruit juice are inadequate, updates the limits and food safety guidance to meet the current scientific understanding of lead risks, and encourages companies to reduce lead concentrations in baby food and take immediate action when limits are exceeded. As for manufacturers, the group advises the companies to: