Policy Update

Lead Exposure in Children Affects Lifetime Earnings, IQ, Research Finds



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A new study revealed that children with high blood-lead levels are more likely to have lower IQs and to wind up lower on the socioeconomic ladder 30 years later. The research is from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health & Development Study out of Dunedin, New Zealand. The project is the longest-running longitudinal, or cohort, study, and has followed 1,000 individuals from childhood to their early 40s.

The researchers found that the negative impacts from lead exposure never expire, and small impacts on IQ can drastically affect earnings and wealth over time. Other studies have found similar outcomes, and there are currently at least 80 bills to address lead contamination in state legislatures across the country.


  • A news story on the study is available here
  • The full study is available here
  • NCEL’s webpage on lead is available here.