Societal benefits from EU reduction measures to decrease lead levels in the environment; Combining results from the EU funded projects INTARESE and HEIMTSA
Exposure and Risk Assessment Modeling, Flemish Institute for Technological Research – Vito, Vlasmeer 7, B-2400 Mol, BELGIUM
The current paper combines the results of two Sixth Framework Program EU research projects aimed at developing and testing methods for integrated assessment of health risks from environmental stressors, i.e. the INTARESE and the HEIMTSA project, both of which covered a case study on environmental lead. The INTARESE case study on lead in Europe was meant to illustrate the use of the Integrated Monitoring Framework Strategy to assess the health outcome of environmental pollution by evaluating the associations between lead in various environmental compartments (air, soil, dust, drinking water and diet) and lead concentrations in blood (B-Pb) for various age-related sub-populations. The case study was aimed to investigate whether environmental, exposure and biomonitoring data at general population level, covering all EU member states, could be integrated. The HEIMTSA case study on the other hand involved the full chain assessment from policy drivers to health effect quantification of lead exposure through locally produced food on loss of IQ in pre-school children at the population level across the EU-27, including monetary valuation of the estimated health impact. Main policy scenarios cover the period from 2000 to 2020 and include the most important Community policy developments expected to affect the environmental release of lead (Pb) and corresponding human exposure patterns. Three distinct scenarios were explored: the emission situation based on 2000 data, a business-as-usual scenario (BAU) up to 2010 and 2020 and a scenario incorporating the most likely technological change expected (Most Feasible Technical Reductions, MFTR) in response to current and future legislation. Analysing environmental data, significant correlations were found between B-Pb and the concentrations of Pb in air and diet. The significant decrease of the Pb in air over time from 0.31 μg/m3 (P95: 0.94; n=98) prior to 1990 to 0.045 μg/m3 (P95:0.11; n=256) in 2007 (latest observations included) (Δ=−85%) corresponds to a decline in B-Pb by 48% and 57% in adult women and adult men, respectively. The corresponding decline in B-Pb in primary school children is 32%. The observed B-Pb levels (biomonitoring data) for each age category from the INTARESE project were translated into an average loss of IQ points/individual using the methodology developed in the HEIMTSA project based on a literature survey, i.e. using an empirical relationship based on a meta-analysis performed by Schwartz (1994). The calculated losses in IQ points were subsequently further translated into the average cost/child using a cost estimate of €10.000 per loss of IQ point based on data from a literature review. In applying the methodology for estimating the health impact and monetary valuation of IQ loss developed during the HEIMTSA project to the INTARESE biomonitoring data, we estimate the societal benefit from the reduction strategies implemented to decrease environmental lead levels in Europe for primary-school children, representing a vulnerable population, to amount to 2.5x1011 Euro at EU27 level.
Key words: Heavy metals / impact assessment / IQ loss / lead / monetary valuation / primary-school children
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2013
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