Getting the Lead Out

Chemist Hilary Godwin:

Investigating the Chemistry of Lead Poisoning

Hilary Godwin Is an Atomic Sleuth

Chemist Godwin investigates how lead disrupts protein function.

How is lead toxic to kids?



Answer: Lead can damage the brain and nervous system

Lead poisoning is linked to

• Developmental delays

• Learning disabilities

• Behavior problems

High levels of lead in routine blood tests: often the first symptom of lead poisoning in children

2.2 percent of American children age 1-5 years have blood levels of lead measuring at least 10 micrograms per deciliter.

—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Where Do We Find Lead?

Lead contaminants can be found in

Lead Is a Metal Thief

Lead (Pb) can attach tightly to proteins, knocking out key metals such as zinc (Zn) or calcium (Ca), which are needed for good health.

Lead can disrupt gene function:

Lead's Molecular Damage

Godwin's Metal Test

Godwin uses analytic chemistry to determine how tightly lead binds with proteins.

Nothing Good About Lead

  1. Severe lead poisoning can damage the nervous system

  2. Lead toxicity can cause anemia

  3. Lead poisoning is associated with male infertility

"Good Metals" Help Body Chemistry

Healthy Metals

Research Applications

Could other metals be used to displace lead from body molecules?