Lead Strike Anew
The mineral lead is toxic to humans and animals. Young children (and fetuses)
are most susceptible to the toxic effects of lead, and even small amounts of
lead have been reported to affect children’s physical and intellectual growth.
Large amounts of lead in a child’s blood have been found to cause brain
damage, mental retardation, behavior problems, anemia, liver and kidney damage,
hearing loss, hyperactivity, developmental delays, other physical and mental
problems, and in extreme cases, death.
In the years past, automobile fuels, paints, cooking utensils, and drinking
water systems were often cited as being the major sources of lead poisoning.
As a result of having this knowledge, these types of lead sources have been
greatly reduced or eliminated during the past half century. This has resulted in
finding levels of lead in children being typically 90% less than the lead levels
occurring during the 1950’s.
Early this spring, a new source of lead exposure to humans was identified by the
federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). During their routinely conducted
Market Basket Test, elevated levels of lead were detected within a sample of
mixed frozen vegetables.
Later analysis determined that the carrots in this vegetable mixture were the
prime source of the lead, and that these carrots had been grown in a specific
section of a field located in Quincy, Washington.
A state and federal work group was formed and their investigation discovered
that the section of the field where these carrots had been grown formerly was an
old orchard. They also determined that the source of the mineral lead originated
from a lead arsenate pesticide which had been used to control gypsy and codling
moths on tree fruit in that orchard until the late 1940s.
These investigators are planning to conduct follow up efforts which include: to
identify old orchard lands which may have been treated with lead arsenate
pesticides; to educate growers and homeowners who grow “backyard” gardens
about the potential of some root crops which absorb lead from the soil; and to
develop an ongoing sampling protocol to test products for lead.