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E. A Lingering Lead Problem

Narrator: This is Science Today. Over the years, the use of lead in industry has been greatly reduced due to its toxicity. But Donald Smith, a toxicologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz says it's still a lingering problem in some areas.

Smith: There's also enormous amounts of lead that's contained in old housing in their lead based paints, which the houses were painted with. And so those sources of lead whether it be dust and soil or lead based paint continued to serve as a very important source of exposure for children with in urban areas or within old houses that the paint's deteriorating.

Narrator: Part of Smith's research involves tracing the chemical fate of lead in the environment and our bodies and finding out what happens to heavy metals in the body during clinical treatment for exposure.

Smith: What we're interested in doing is to actually evaluate how beneficial some of the drugs that are being used to treat lead poisoning are and actually reducing body lead levels and more importantly, reducing specific neurologic lead toxicity.

Narrator: Because symptoms of lead poisoning can be subtle and similar to other conditions, Smith recommends having a blood test if exposure is suspected. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.