Lead in children

New Scientist, 20 May 1982:

Those who are familiar with David Otto’s work on lead and its effects upon evoked brain wave potentials in early childhood (Monitor, 15 April, p 144) will realise that the subsequent communication from Alexander Macnair (Letters, 29 April, p 312) confuses the issue. His version of Otto’s work differs in several respects from the original papers (Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, vol. 52, pp 229 and 240).

First, the population, studied was not drawn entirely from the families of lead workers. Children were also included as part of a routine screening programme. Secondly, all children were asymptomatic at the time of study: there are no data to substantiate Macnair’s statement that the children had been previously exposed to levels high enough to cause permanent brain damage. Furthermore, there is no reference from their source of exposure. Both statements represent pure conjecture by Macnair and it is difficult to imagine what he hopes to achieve by writing letters which contain so many inaccuracies. Macnair should declare his allegiances, if any.

Robin Russell-Jones
Member of CLEAR Scientific and Medical Advisory Board