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A. A New Technique that Detects the Sources of Lead Exposure

Narrator: This is Science Today. A technique that can detect the various sources of lead may help target and prevent the sometime elusive causes of childhood lead poisoning. Don Smith, an environmental toxicologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, says the technique they're working on can pinpoint the "fingerprints" of many different lead varieties, which are called isotopes.

Smith: It retains that isotopic fingerprint that we can then use as a way to assess how lead is being transported through the environment or more importantly, how children are being exposed to lead in their household environment.

Narrator: In the U.S., almost one in every 20 children under the age of six suffers from lead poisoning. And yet, current methods of testing used by public health agencies often can't identify the sources of lead exposure.

Smith: It's not their fault, it's just the tools they have available aren't very sophisticated. Our hope is that we can demonstrate effectively this is a viable technique - which it is - and then it can be adopted as a measure to help evaluate home environments for lead exposure to children.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.