18 January 2009

Workers exposed to lead show more cognitive problems later in life

Cumulative, not current, lead is linked to subtle deficits in workers tested at age 55 and older
American Psychological Society: 12 January 2009
Both the developing brain and the aging brain can suffer from lead exposure. For older people, a buildup of lead from earlier exposure may be enough to result in greater cognitive problems after age 55, according to a follow-up study of adults exposed to lead at work.

A full report appears in the January issue of Neuropsychology, which is published by the American Psychological Association.

From the Graduate School of Public Health and the School of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, the authors reported that cognitive problems were linked to cumulative exposure.
The researchers followed up on the 1982 Lead Occupational Study, which assessed the cognitive abilities of 288 lead-exposed and 181 non-exposed male workers in eastern Pennsylvania. The lead-exposed workers came from three lead battery plants; the unexposed control workers made truck chassis at a nearby location. At both points in time, all the workers were given the Pittsburgh Occupational Exposures Test battery, which includes measures of five primary cognitive domains: psychomotor speed, spatial function, executive function, general intelligence, and learning and memory. … > full story

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