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Open Access Review article

Perspective on lead toxicity, a comparison between the United States and Iran

Ali Pourmand, Tareq Khedir Al-tiae and Maryann Mazer-Amirshahi

Author Affiliations

Department of Emergency Medicine, George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA

DARU Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 2012, 20:70  doi:10.1186/2008-2231-20-70

Published: 30 October 2012

Abstract

Lead is a pervasive toxin that has been implicated in human poisonings throughout history. Exposure mitigation strategies in the United States and worldwide have led to a decline in symptomatic poisonings and population blood lead levels; however, lead remains a major health hazard. In this article, we review the history of lead toxicity, clinical manifestations ranging from subclinical and subtle features to life-threatening complications, and the subsequent public health interventions in the US. In addition, we explore common routes of lead exposure and the unique differences between the US and Iran. Although the US has made significant strides with regard to this public health issue, lead poisoning in both countries continues to be a health hazard in the adult and pediatric populations. It is also critical to consider natural disasters and reconstruction efforts as potential sources of lead contamination. In conclusion, we make recommendations that both the US and Iranian authorities can implement to eradicate lead as a public health hazard.