Lead occurs naturally but is primarily an environmental pollutant that is present everywhere in the environment: in air, in soil and in water.
Lead is also present in most foods, though at low levels. Most of the lead we ingest therefore comes from the foods we eat frequently such as cereals, vegetables and drinks.
Levels of lead in blood have decreased considerably among Swedes since the use of lead in gasoline was phased out, but it is still important to try to reduce the intake of lead as far as possible.
Is lead dangerous?
Lead can affect the nervous system. Foetuses and young children are the most sensitive to lead since their brains and nervous systems are still developing. The possible effects consist of delayed development and lower IQ. These effects cannot be seen in an individual child, but when studying a whole population. Higher lead levels can also have an effect on blood pressure and can affect the kidneys.