A recent study conducted by The Environmental Defense Fund found 20 percent of 2,164 baby food samples and 14 percent of all other 10,064 food samples had detectable levels of the dangerous neurotoxin lead. While it was reported by many news outlets, some astonishingly downplayed the finding, saying not to “freak out”.
Let’s recapitulate: “Lead is a potent neurotoxin whose toxicity has been recognized for at least thousands of years. Though neurotoxic effects for lead are found in both adults and young children, the developing brain is particularly susceptible to lead-induced harm, effects which can include apoptosis and excitotoxicity.”
There is no established safe level of lead in the body. Especially in infants and children, even very low blood lead levels can cause behavioral problems and lower IQ. Autistic children had higher lead levels detected in their baby teeth than children without autism, with the greatest significance observed during the period right before and following birth.
Infants who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome had significantly higher levels of lead in their lung, liver, kidney and rib tissues compared to infants who died of other causes. Higher lead concentrations in the blood of infants who died of SIDS has also been found, compared to controls. Remember that “apoptosis” word from a few paragraphs up? Well infants who died of SIDS had significant neuronal apoptosis (cell death) in their brains compared to infants who didn’t die of SIDS. Hello, is anyone listening?
The findings from The Environmental Defense Fund study indicated fruit juices to be a major culprit, with detectable levels of lead in 89 percent of grape juice, 67 percent of mixed fruit juice, 55 percent of apple juice and 45 percent of pear juice samples.
Among other baby food types, root vegetables had lead in 65 percent of samples and baby food carrots had lead more often than regular carrots.
Specialty crackers and cookies marketed for teething babies, including arrowroot cookies and teething biscuits, had unusually high rates of lead detection: 64 percent and 47 percent respectively.
The researchers do not know if the lead is coming from the soil or from processing, but they urge more research is needed.
Powdered infant formula once reconstituted is made up mostly of water, and sadly, lead contaminated drinking water is not only happening in Flint, Michigan. Drinking fountains and sinks contaminated with lead are cropping up all over the country in daycare centers, elementary schools and middle schools. Some drinking fountains in Chicago have 80 times the limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Sacramento has identified 43 water fountains, bottle filling stations and sinks that need to be replaced due to high lead levels.
Depending on the age of your home, lead pipes and/or solder could contribute to elevated lead levels in your drinking and bathing water in your own home. Brass faucets and valves made before 2014 could have up to 8 percent lead in them.
If a woman of childbearing age is exposed to large amounts of lead inadvertently through drinking water, then subsequently gets pregnant and nurses, her breastmilk could contain lead as well.
When you factor in all these multiple routes of possible exposure like dirt which we can’t change, having detectable lead levels in water, baby food, or anything else we are choosing to put in our children’s bodies–is and always will be–completely unacceptable. Am I right?!?