STORY AT-A-GLANCE
A 2023 study quantified the global effects of lead poisoning, finding health effects are much greater than previously estimated
In 2019 alone, lead exposure led to 765 million lost IQ points in children under 5 years along with 5.5 million deaths in adults due to cardiovascular disease
The vast majority — including 729 million lost IQ points and 5 million cardiovascular disease deaths — occurred in low-income and middle-income countries
The researchers calculated the global cost of lead exposure at $6 trillion in 2019, which amounted to 6.9% of the global gross domestic product
A separate study also found that children worldwide are suffering from lead poisoning on a “massive and previously unknown scale,” with about 1 in 3 children having blood levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL)

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