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Will California Get Mexican Lead Out?
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January 15, 2006, 11:40 PM
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Many varieties of Mexican candy contains toxic amounts of lead which can cause serious health problems including loss of intelligence ["California: Effort to remove lead from Mexican treats"]. More than 75 percent of new lead poisoning cases in the state occur in hispanic children. Yet California has been dragging its feet in getting the poisonous candy off the shelves because "It would seem culturally insensitive," according to earlier reports.

Grasshoppers are even more lethal. Kids eat them by the handful, ingesting as much as 2,300 micrograms of lead at a time.

Just 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood can permanently lower a child`s IQ by four to five points, according to Maricela Narvaez-Foster of Alameda County`s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. Lead poisoning is hard to detect because its initial symptoms — irritability, fatigue and weight loss — often are attributed to other causes.

Check out the thorough investigative report done by the Orange County Register in 2004: "Toxic Treats". (Hint: Apparently Mexican mothers are not big on feeding their kids a lot of veggies and whole grains.)

And while Mexican culture`s antipathy to scholarly pursuits is well known, does lowered IQ, caused by ingesting lead-laced food products, contribute measurably to hispanics` shocking school drop-out rate?

No one seems to be asking that uncomfortable question.