Lead is usually a naturally occurring element present in small amounts in the earth’s crust. Although it provides some useful uses, it can be dangerous to people and animals causing of health side effects.
Where is Lead Found?
Lead are located in every aspect of our surroundings – the air, the soil, the water, and even in our homes. A lot of our exposure comes from human activities along with the usage of fossil fuels, including past usage of leaded gasoline, some kinds of industrial facilities, and past use of lead-based paint in houses. Lead and lead substances have been used in a wide variety of products seen in and all over our houses, including paint, ceramics, pipes and plumbing materials, solders, gasoline, batteries, ammunition, and cosmetics.
Lead may enter the environment from these past and current usages. Lead can also be imparted into the environment from business sources and contaminated places, such as former lead smelters. Whereas natural levels of lead in soil range between 50 and 400 ppm, mining, smelting, and refining activities have resulted in substantial increases in lead levels in the environment, especially near mining and smelting sites.
When lead is released to the air from industrial sources or automobiles, it may travel long distances before settling to the ground, where it typically sticks to soil particles. Lead may move from soil into ground water depending on the type of lead compound and the qualities of the soil.
Federal and state regulatory standards have helped to reduce the amount of lead in air, drinking water, soil, consumer products, food, and occupational settings.
Who is at Risk?
Lead is particularly hazardous to children because their growing systems absorb a lot more lead than adults do and their brains and nervous systems are more delicate to the damaging effects of lead. Babies and young children can also be more highly exposed to lead because they often put their hands and other objects that can have lead from dust or soil on them into their mouths. Children may also be exposed to lead by eating and drinking food or water containing lead or from dishes or glasses that contain lead, inhaling lead dust from lead-based paint or lead-contaminated soil or from playing with toys with lead paint.
- Adults, Including Pregnant Women
Adults may be exposed to lead by eating and drinking food or water containing lead or from dishes or glasses that contain lead. They may also breath lead dust by spending time in places where lead-based paint is deteriorating, and during renovation or repair work that disturbs painted surfaces in older houses and buildings. Working in a job or engaging in hobbies where lead is used, such as making stained glass, can increase exposure as can certain folk remedies containing lead. A pregnant woman’s exposure to lead from these sources is of specific concern because it can result in exposure to her developing baby.
What are the Health Effects of Lead?
Lead could affect almost every body organ and system in your body. Children six years old and younger are most vulnerable to the effects of lead.
Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in:
- Behavior and learning problems
- Lower IQ and Hyperactivity
- Slowed growth
- Loss Of Hearing
In rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma and even death.
Lead can accumulate in our bodies over time, where it is stored in bones along with calcium. During pregnancy, lead is released from bones as maternal calcium and is used to help form the bones of the fetus. This is particularly true if a woman does not have enough dietary calcium. Lead can also cross the placental barrier exposing the fetus the lead. This can result in serious effects to the mother and her developing fetus, including:
Decreased development of the fetus
- Premature birt
- Lower Your Chances of Exposure to Lead
Simple steps like keeping your home clean and well-maintained will go a long way in preventing lead exposure. You can lower the chances of exposure to lead in your home, both now and in the future, by taking these steps:
- Inspect and maintain all painted surfaces to prevent paint deterioration
- Deal with water damage quickly and completely
- Maintain your house clean and dust-free
- Clean around painted areas where friction can generate dust, such as doors, windows, and drawers. Wipe these areas with a wet sponge or rag to remove paint chips or dust
- Use only cold water to prepare food and drinks
- Flush water outlets used for drinking or food preparation
- Clean debris out of outlet screens or faucet aerators on a regular basis
- Wash children’s hands, bottles, pacifiers and toys often
- Teach children to wipe and remove their shoes and wash hands after playing outdoors
- Ensure that your family members eat well-balanced meals. Children with healthy diets absorb less lead.
What do I perform if I think my child or I have been exposed to lead?
Talk to your physician, general physician, or local health agency about what you can do. Your doctor can do a simple blood test to check you or your child for lead exposure. You may also want to test your home for sources of lead.