Letter of William Marcus, Ph.D. to Dr. Lozoff, 1992. Re: High lead blood level

Letter of William Marcus, Ph.D. to Dr. Lozoff, 1992.

Betsy Lozoff, M.D.
Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital
2074 Abington Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44106

Dear Dr. Lozoff,

I read your 1991 article in The New England Journal of Medicine “Long-Term Developmental Outcome of Infants with Iron Deficiency.” Your explanations of the potential confounding factors on page 692 included reference to high blood lead levels.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency set the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) in drinking water at 15 parts per billion (ppb). The health goal set by the U.S. EPA is 0. The drinking water level to be protective of all children, should be no higher than 5 ppb. Studies by HUD using the data collected from millions of children throughout the United States and NHANES II demonstrated black and hispanic children having nearly identical lead exposures have significantly higher blood lead levels. While the 15 ppb in drinking water may marginally protect white children, it puts blacks and hispanics at great risk. The analyses performed by U.S. EPA using recent studies performed world wide demonstrated that children with blood lead levels higher than 5 micrograms/deciliter have a significantly lowered IQ. Most recently Baghurst et al., 1992 in The New England Journal of Medicine 327:1279-84 showed similar results in Port Pirie, Australia. At 15 ppb in drinking water a high percentage of black and hispanic children whose IQ potential may have been 125 or greater will never attain that potential. In white children a significant but lower percentage of children with pitential IQ’s greater than 125 will also be affected. Setting 15 ppb as the lead standard for the U.S. will lead to the loss of a significant number of our best and brightest, something we can ill afford in today’s global competition.

The National Federation of Federal Employees Local 2050 wishes to change EPA’s policy. Did your work demonstrate that children who were black or hispanic were at higher risk? The Union needs all available data to bolster its position that current law is not protective of hispanic and/or blacks. We would greatly appreciate your help.

Very truly yours,
William L. Marcus, Ph.D., D.A.B.T.
Chief Toxicologist
Senior Science Advisor
NFFE Local 2050

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