The next Science Café Cleveland discussion will focus on childhood lead poisoning.

John Sobolewski, deputy director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, will present “Eliminating Childhood Lead Poisoning: Is it Worth the Cost?” Monday, Jan. 14, from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Music Box Supper Club (1148 Main Ave.).

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and limited menu options will be available for purchase.

The Case Western Reserve University chapter of Sigma Xi, WCPN ideastream, and the Music Box Supper Club sponsor Science Café Cleveland.

For more information, visit the CWRU chapter of Sigma Xi’s website.

Talk details

In 2003, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared lead poisoning “one of the most common and preventable pediatric health problems today.”

Lead is a naturally occurring element found throughout the environment. It is also a potent neurotoxin that affects the central nervous system, and is very harmful to the developing nervous systems of fetuses and young children.

Overt health effects are rare, but early exposure to lead—even at low levels—has been shown to adversely affect IQ and impulse control, leading to profound individual and societal impacts and associated costs.

While the national lead poisoning prevalence rate is less than 0.5 percent, low-income minority children suffer disproportionately from the effects of lead in their environment.

Since 1997, more than 45,000 children aged 6 years or younger in Cuyahoga County have been identified to have blood lead levels greater than 10µg/dL. In 2016 alone, 8.2 percent—or 1,883 children—were identified with elevated blood lead levels.

A recent local foundation initiative estimated the cost for lead elimination, and prompted debate as to whether it is worthwhile to make significant current investments in lead elimination to offset long-term societal costs.