The Health Impacts of Lead
What is lead poisoning?
- Lead poisoning is increased levels of lead in the blood.
- Lead is a natural occurring element that is used commonly in commercial and industrial products.
- Everyone has small levels of lead in their bloodstream and it may cause no problems, but increased and prolonged exposure can lead to lead poisoning. Lead poisoning is especially a concern for children under six years of age.
Why is lead poisoning dangerous?
- Lead poisoning can cause damage to the kidneys, nervous system, and brain.
- Lead poisoning may also cause hearing, behavior and learning problems in young children.
- Once organ systems are hurt, the damage is often irreversible
- Often lead poisoning goes undetected because the initial signs are similar to common ailments
Common signs of lead poisoning
Slowed speech development
Who is at risk for lead poisoning?
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- Children are at increased risk because of incomplete development of the organ systems.
- Brain development is critical during the first six years of life because if brain development is interrupted learning disabilities may result and are often irreversible.
- Anyone who lives in a home built before 1978 may be at risk because lead was legally used in paint up until that time.
- Children may eat paint chips because lead has a sweet taste.
- Small children have may hand-to-mouth activites and if the house was built before 1978, the duest will often contain deteriorated paint.
- Lead may be found in water from lead soldered copper pipes.
- Lead may be found in soil due to chipping paint or from the past use of leaded gasoline. Also, some industries may have used lead that has caused the soil to be saturated with lead.