Questions for “Get the lead out!”

Kids in Chicago celebrate the start of summer. Depending on whether they were exposed to lead early in life, some may carry a lasting legacy that can impact how well they learn and perform in school.

Supafly/ Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

To accompany feature “Get the lead out!


Before reading:

1.    What is the scientific abbreviation for lead? What Latin word is the source of its abbreviation?

2.    What does toxic mean?

During reading:

1.    To what products was lead once added as an ingredient?

2.    How pervasive is lead poisoning?

3.    Explain how lead harms the brain.

4.    Why are infants and toddlers especially vulnerable to lead poisoning?

5.    Describe the “inverse correlation” that researchers have found.

6.    Is a little bit of lead safe for children? Explain why or why not?

7.    Where did researchers see the most dramatic effects of lead poisoning on test scores?

8.    When did many of these children likely become exposed to lead?

9.    What is an “insult” in biology?

10.  Much lead poisoning is preventable. Give some examples of how the poisoning can be limited.

After reading:

1.    What data do the story offer you to suggest that lead has an effect on test scores? Were those data persuasive? Explain your answer.

2.    Estimate the effect you would expect to see on test scores if lead poisoning were not an issue among the third-graders involved in the study.


1.    A child has 2 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. Convert that, in decimal form, to express the value as kilograms per liter.