New modeling research in the Lancet Planetary Health indicates that lead poisoning has a significantly more profound effect on global health than previously estimated, potentially playing a role in causing over five million deaths annually. This research suggests that lead poisoning poses a comparable threat to air pollution in terms of its detrimental impact.
The authors of the study are two World Bank economists. They aimed to assess the impact of lead exposure on heart disease deaths and child IQ loss in wealthy and developing nations. According to their model, 5.5 million adults died from heart disease in 2019 because of lead exposure, 90% of them in low- and middle-income countries.
For their analysis, the researchers used estimates of blood lead levels in 183 countries taken from the landmark 2019 Global Burden of Disease study.