Even Low-Level Lead Exposure is Harmful for Kidneys in Adolescents

It is well established that chronic, high-level lead exposure is a significant risk factor for kidney disease.  A new study conducted at the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research in Baltimore examined a less well understood problem, the effect of low-level lead exposure such as that found in everyday environments, especially as it may effect younger people.

769 adolescents aged 12 to 20 years were examined in the Third National Health and Nutrition survey (NHANES III) conducted from 1988-1994.  Their blood lead levels were measured, as well as their level of kidney function.

The conclusion was that higher blood lead levels, even those in a range below the current CDC designated level of concern (10 microg/dL) were associated with adverse effects on kidney function. In fact the higher the adolescents's lead level the more kidney function was affected.


This study further confirms what Environmental Doctors have been concerned about for a long time on the role that the environment plays on our children's health. 

We live in a highly polluted environment, particularly if we live in big cities.  Although laws have been made to protect us from acute lead poisoning, studies like this one show that toxins such as lead, even at so-called “safe” levels of exposure, may be keeping our bodies from functioning at at their best.  I carefully  evaluate heavy metals in the blood or all my patients especially new patients.

I have 60 year old woman in my practice right now with impaired kidney function. Her urologist is not sure why her kidney function is down. With a challenged urine test I found her lead level to be about 30 times normal ! So I have to wonder based on this new information if the lead might be the main cause of her kidney function impairment? 


About Dr. Soram Khalsa

As an MD, Dr Soram specializes in Integrative Medicine combining diet, nutrition, acupuncture, herbs and nutrition. Visit Dr Soram’s Healthy Living Store where you’ll find high-quality nutritional supplements: