Health Risks from Lead Exposure

Teresa Ferreira, Regulatory and Standards Coordinator
(teresa.ferreira@ontario.ca or 519 826 4380)

Lead is a naturally occurring metal found deep within the ground. It occurs in small amounts in ore, along with other elements such as silver, zinc or copper. Even though it's found in small amounts, there is an abundant supply of lead throughout the earth. Because it is widespread, easy to extract and easy to work with, lead has been used in a wide variety of products and equipment including those used by the maple products industry.

The World Health Organization has identified lead as 1 of 10 chemicals of major public health concern. Lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones. It is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time.

Human exposure is usually assessed through the measurement of lead in blood. Exposure to lead is known to have adverse effects on human health. Young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health effects, particularly affecting the development of the brain and nervous system. Lead also causes long-term harm in adults, including increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage. Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of lead can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight, as well as minor malformations.

The presence of lead in foods can constitute a hazard to human health. Since the lead found in maple syrup is attributable to the processing operations, you should continuously take steps to eliminate lead contamination at the source.

Protect your business and the maple industry's reputation by producing safe, high-quality maple syrup and by ensuring that your products do not become contaminated.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: Teresa Ferreira - Regulatory and Standards Coordinator
Creation Date: December 2017
Last Reviewed: December 2017