Remember the hullabaloo over the Flint water crisis?
Without a doubt, there was an excellent reason to be concerned. Lead is one of the few chemicals that are scary in relatively small amounts. Lead contamination, when it occurs, is a problem that needs to be quickly resolved.
Thankfully, the average blood lead levels (BLLs) of children in Flint increased by just a tiny amount — so tiny, in fact, that the water crisis represented just a tiny blip on an overall downward trend in average BLL.
That good news didn’t stop the media from fanning the flames of panic and scaremongering. In July 2018, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour flat-out lied about the situation in Flint, falsely stating that children “now live with the irreversible effects” of lead poisoning, and featuring a guest who claimed it was the “most important… public health disaster of this young century.”
In North Carolina, blood lead levels (BLLs) in children are decreasing, but one county saw a curious uptick in the number of children who had elevated BLLs (defined as ≥5 μg/dL). An investigation revealed that spices, herbal remedies, and ceremonial powders may be partially to blame.
The CDC report focused on 61 children (from 59 residences) with elevated BLLs from 2011 to 2018. (The average was 17 μg/dL, more than three times the CDC threshold.) Investigators went to the homes to determine possible causes — from paint to cookware — and the factors that played an outsized role were the aforementioned substances. Both nonedible (e.g., kumkum, indoor, and Surma) and edible (e.g., saffron and turmeric) items had high lead levels.
Read the full article at ACSH