Millions more children than earlier thought might have mental impairments linked to lead poisoning, a finding that suggests that the federal government’s current recommendation for acceptable blood-lead levels is much too high, according to a study presented yesterday in Boston at a joint conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Pediatric Academic Societies. In a multi-year study, Bruce Lanphear of Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati found cognitive impairment in children with blood lead levels as low as 2.5 micrograms per deciliter, while the government’s recommended limit is 10 micrograms. In a separate study, Herbert Needleman of the University of Pittsburgh found a link between lead exposure and juvenile delinquency; for example, convicted male juveniles were nearly twice as likely to have high bone-lead levels than those with no convictions. Both scientists said the government could take significant steps to reduce these problems.