Lead children

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Classification according to ICD-10
T56.0 Toxic Effects of Metals; Lead and its compounds
ICD-10 online (WHO version 2019)

As Lead Children Children are referred to, at one in Stolberg in the Aachen region suffering that occurred in the 1970s disease with a high lead content in the body.

Clinical picture

Since lead is only partially eliminated from the body, the rest is deposited in the skeleton (so-called lead border on the bones ) and in soft tissues such as the liver and kidneys . These deposits are also called deposit lead . In the case of the dental lead examinations known in Stolberg, conclusions were drawn about the deposit lead. 36% of the lead burden in children is on organs, tissues and blood. In adults, this is only 6 to 8 percent. The rest is stored in the bones. The developing nervous system of embryos and children can be damaged by exposure to lead. Another risk group are pregnant women.


In 1979 the Medical Institute for Environmental Hygiene at the University of Düsseldorf examined the lead content of milk teeth from Stolberg children. A longer period of residence in Stolberg and the fact that the child's father was a lead smelter had a significantly increasing effect on the accumulation of heavy metals in the teeth. The following blood lead tests confirmed these findings: In the summer of 1982, the lead and cadmium levels in the blood of 213 children from various districts of Stolberg were determined. 45 children from the area around the Binsfeldhammer lead smelter were examined separately. The result was confirmed that the population in the vicinity of the hut is particularly exposed to lead acid. Eight children significantly exceeded the guideline values. The maximum value in Stolberg was 38.5 µg Pb / 100 ml blood.

The higher the dental lead value, the worse the children did in reaction tests. Children with a high tooth lead content were more likely to be described as having “behavioral problems”. All children with a tooth lead content of over 20 performed significantly worse than the average in tests. However, lead-related IQ deficits could not be demonstrated.

In 1990, Dr. Ewers presented an environmental medical and epidemiological study on heavy metal pollution of the population, commissioned by the city of Stolberg and the district health office in Aachen , which came to the conclusion that further observation was no longer necessary. The maximum lead content in Stolberg was 15.5 µg Pb / 100 ml blood.

According to a long-term study published by the University of Bristol in 2009, children with permanent lead exposure later show poorer school performance and are more likely to have hyperactive and anti-social behavior. The researchers found no abnormalities below a value of five micrograms. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around half of urban children under the age of five worldwide have blood lead levels greater than ten micrograms per deciliter.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Dangers of lead pollution have not gone away - particularly for children. Bristol University press release, September 17, 2009
  2. Lead harms children's development. in Süddeutsche Zeitung, September 21, 2009


  • Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (ed.), Environmental problems caused by heavy metals in the Stolberg area, Düsseldorf 1983.
  • Schneider, Friedrich Karl, Investigations on the content of lead and other heavy metals in the soils and heaps of the Stolberg area (Rhineland), Stuttgart 1982.
  • Heavy metal pollution in Stolberg. Documentation and advice. Edited by the city of Stolberg and the working group of concerned citizens. Stolberg o. J.

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