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Lead Poisoning Can Strike Years After Bullets Lodge

By Anahad O'Connor

The New York Times

Most people associate lead poisoning with paint chips and toxic dust. But in a case report published last week, doctors identified a more unusual source of exposure: gunshot wounds.

The article, about a 32-year-old Chicago man who had lead poisoning from a gunshot wound to his elbow, appears in the latest issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. In the same issue was a report about a man in the Netherlands who, despite pieces of buckshot peppering his back from a hunting accident, was in fine health.

In most cases, if a bullet has not penetrated an internal organ or caused infection, doctors will leave it in rather than risk surgery. The surrounding tissue encapsulates the bullet, preventing it from dissolving and leaching into the blood.

The patient cited in the second report was not as lucky. He showed up at a Chicago hospital recently complaining of nausea, constipation and abdominal pain. Doctors found that he had low levels of red blood cells, a symptom of lead poisoning. Other tests revealed that he had 14 times the normal amount of lead in his system.

Warning in Evolution Text Is Subject Of Trial

By Ariel Hart

The New York Times ATLANTA

A federal judge began hearing testimony on Monday about whether the Cobb County School District should be allowed to leave stickers in biology textbooks saying that evolution is “a theory, not a fact” and should be “approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.”

In a lawsuit against the school district, the American Civil Liberties Union is arguing on behalf of five parents that the stickers violate the constitutional separation of church and state.

The school board says the stickers, which do not mention creationism or religion, are nothing more than a neutral gesture to parents who have lost their battle against teaching evolution in the public schools.

The stickers were placed in the textbooks in 2002. The books include a thorough treatment of evolution, and the stickers were intended only to “acknowledge that it may hurt some people’s feelings,” said E. Linwood Gunn, a lawyer for the board.

In 2002, Gunn said, the board dropped a policy prohibiting the teaching of human evolution in classes that were required for graduation. “For years we had an unconstitutional policy and nothing was ever said about it until we tried to correct it,” he said. “It’s a little bit ironic.”