Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning hazard

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What Is Lead?

Lead is a naturally occurring metal. It is present in a variety of products that we use every day. This includes masala spice mixes, cosmetic products, paints, plastics and vehicle fumes. Hence, lead abounds in the atmosphere as well as soil and even in everyday foods. Therefore, it can enter the body through ingestion and inhalation. Unlike other metal ions such as sodium, potassium, and calcium, which are vital to the health of the body, the human body has no use for lead. However, when this substance does find its way into the body, it may end up being used in the construction of bone tissue and even muscles.

 

What Is Lead Poisoning?

Lead poisoning hazardA certain amount of lead can be tolerated without harmful or adverse effects on one’s health. However, in larger doses, lead is highly toxic or poisonous to the body and it can produce a variety of severe problems. There are two ways in which lead poisoning can happen. The person may be exposed to a large dose of lead over a short period of time. Alternatively, he or she suffers repeated exposure in smaller quantities over a prolonged timeframe.

The former can occur when someone inhales lead dust or swallows an object made up of lead or containing large quantities of it. Lead in the body can accumulate over the long-term through repeated low-risk exposure. For instance, long-term exposure to fumes from vehicles using leaded petrol or drinking water that is delivered through lead pipes. Another possible pathway is occupational exposure through mining and industrial manufacture of products such as paints.

This toxin is capable of disrupting nearly every system in the body. However, the nervous system is the most sensitive to lead toxicity. Patients may present with severe neurological problems such as convulsions and coma. In fact, in serious cases, lead can be fatal.

 

What Are The Some Risk Factors For Lead Poisoning?

Since lead is present in the household, environmental and industrial settings, it is quite difficult to escape exposure. However, it should be borne in mind that young children are more vulnerable than other age groups to the toxic effects of this substance. This is due largely to their tendency to explore objects with their mouths. The risk is higher in homes where the paint is peeling away from the walls or where old leaden pipes continue to be used.

Here is a more comprehensive list of potential risk factors:

  • Young children are, particularly at risk.
  • Fuel exhaust in countries where leaded petrol continues to be used.
  • Occupational exposure in industries such as mining.
  • Plastic products.
  • Lead acid batteries.
  • Paints.
  • Cosmetic products.
  • Canned foods.
  • Indigenous or herbal medicinal preparations that are not subject to stringent regulations or quality control.
  • Water contaminated as it passes through lead pipes.
  • Deficiency of iron, calcium and vitamin C promotes absorption of lead in the body.

 

What Are The External Signs Of Lead Poisoning?

lead poisoning water pipesGenerally, if the level of lead in the blood reaches 10mcg/dL, it is considered serious cause for concern. The patient will most probably suffer irreversible damage. There is no clear consensus on a safe lower limit since symptoms of lead poisoning have also been observed in individuals with about 5mcg/dL of lead in their blood.

Lead poisoning does not usually produce clearly identifiable symptoms. As the toxic heavy metal accumulates gradually in the body with repeated low-risk exposure, symptoms may take many months or even years to show up. In children, the effects of lead toxicity generally become apparent only in the long term in the form of developmental defects, growth deficits, and cognitive impairment. Lead also affects the kidneys and impairs the ability of the body to produce hemoglobin.

A few or more of the following symptoms may be present:

  • Abdominal pain or cramps.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Constipation.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headaches.
  • Irritability.
  • Sensory deficits such as hearing loss.
  • Weight loss.

In cases involving acute exposure, patients may display the following signs:

  • Vomiting.
  • Loss of balance and coordination.
  • Mental confusion.
  • Seizures.

 

What Are The Complications?

As we have seen, lead is a potent neurotoxin. It can give rise to a variety of disturbing neurological and physical symptoms such as:

  • Ataxia.
  • Anemia.
  • Hearing impairment.
  • Speech deficits.
  • Reduced IQ in children.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Delayed or impaired growth in children.
  • Kidney problems.
  • Difficulty conceiving.
  • Convulsions and coma.

 

How Is Lead Poisoning Diagnosed?

In the earlier stages of chronic exposure, there may be no noticeable symptoms. Hence, the condition can easily go undetected until it reaches a severe or critical level. Patients with acute exposure (i.e., those who have ingested or inhaled high doses of lead) should be hospitalized immediately. If a doctor suspects metal poisoning as the cause of the symptoms, the most reliable way to detect unsafe levels of lead in the body is through blood tests. Depending on the nature of the symptoms, doctors may also recommend specific procedures such as bone marrow biopsies in order to assess lead content.

 

What Is The Best Way To Treat It?

Lead poisoning waterIn some countries, regulations dictate that young children regularly undergo screening for exposure to lead. This will ensure that toxic exposure is identified well before it escalates and gives rise to serious and long-term problems in children.

Those who have already developed symptoms can certainly be treated. What this will achieve is to prevent further damage. However, the damage that the body has already sustained cannot be reversed. The patient will most likely be treated through a method known as chelation therapy. This involves introducing chelating agents into the body; specifically, into the bloodstream. These are agents that actively seek out lead ions and bind to them, preventing them from being absorbed by the body. Both are then ejected by the kidneys through urine. This treatment is considered highly effective for lead poisoning although its use in other settings is considered controversial.

In adults, it is possible to achieve full recovery following mild poisoning. However, in children, there is a danger of long-term deficits. Hence, it is important to find out the source of exposure and to actively avoid it as far as possible.

 

Safety and prevention

Lead is highly ubiquitous in the environment, even within our own homes. The good news is that it is possible to cut down on toxic exposure to lead. However, this calls for dedicated and large-scale collaborative efforts on the part of governments and industries to ensure that lead is removed from consumer products, fuels, foods and the atmosphere. Miners and factory workers should be provided with adequate protection to ensure that their health is not compromised in any way due to occupational exposure.

Such initiatives will need to be supported by awareness on the individual and community level to ensure that children and adults alike are aware of the risks. It is necessary for citizens to come together to put sufficient pressure on policymakers. This will ensure that legislation and regulations are put in place to force manufacturers to cut down on lead content in their products.

 

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • If you live in an area where chances of lead poisoning are high (mining or industrial areas), make sure that your house is cleaned and mopped daily.
  • In such scenarios, keep a check on where your child goes to play and/or spends substantial time.
  • Wash hands every time you come home and before eating anything.
  • Increase the intake of calcium, iron, and vitamin C for an individual diagnosed with lead poisoning.
  • Old building and houses (1960s-70s) should be repainted with lead-free paint.
Don'ts
  • Burn painted boards, magazines, newspapers etc inside or near residential areas.
  • Go barefoot on soil near highways and heavy traffic areas, as it is highly contaminated with lead.

 

 

 

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Hydroxycut: How safe are these so-called weight loss supplements? Hydroxycut is a blend of several different ingredients formulated to promote weight loss; powered by a key weight…
top 10 deadliest diseases
What are the top 10 deadliest diseases and what is causing them? What are the largest killers of human lives across the globe? Which diseases are the most fatal ones?…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Fibromyalgia fatigue
HCG Diet: The dangers of using this diet to lose weight HCG is a natural hormone produced by both men and women that corresponds to fertility. But how is…
EMG electromyography
EMG- Electromyography EMG detects the presence, location, and extent of diseases that damage the nerves such motor neuron disease. Electromyography…
glutamine workout
Glutamine: Why is this the right choice for muscle-gain supplement? Glutamine can help you gain muscles and build higher immunity. Read more to find out how you can…
HSV-IgM test
Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)-IgM Test The HSV-IgM class antibody is produced by the body a few days after an initial HSV infection and…
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
cytomegalovirus iGG
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)- IgG Test The cytomegalovirus IgG is the immunoglobulin protein produced by our immune system when the body is infected by…
blood elements analysis
Vitamin Profile Your doctor will recommend you undergo the vitamin profile test if you are showing signs of either vitamin…
Turner syndrome and infertility
Infertility profile (women) The infertility profile tests in women are conducted to form a complete picture of the hormonal balance and…
tonometry
Tonometry Tonometry uses a device called tonometer to measure the pressure inside the eye. This pressure is depends upon…
complement c4 test
Complement 4 (C4) Test The Complement 4 or C4 test measures the level of the protein in the bloodstream, and is primarily…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…
Spinach: The ultimate way to boost health with this green superfood! Spinach is a green superfood that ranks high in both taste and nutrition. Read more to discover how…
Bronchoscopy procedure
Bronchoscopy Bronchoscopy is a procedure where in a scope is inserted into the lung pathway to observe any growth…
Keto diet healthy
Keto Diet: Did you know you could eat fats to burn fats? Keto diet - A wonder diet that lets you eat fats and lose weight too! Read on to…
green poop causes
Green poop : What are the reasons and how can you correct it Ever sneak a peek down the toilet only to shockingly find green poop? Why does our poop turn…
Echocardiogram
Echocardiography – ECHO Echocardiography (commonly known as ECHO) is an imaging modality (similar to ultrasonography) used to visualize the interior of…
creatinine
Creatinine Test The level of creatinine in the blood is a significant indicator of the health of your kidneys. This…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
beta hcg test
Beta hCG Test A Beta hCG test measures the level of human gonadotropin hormones present in the blood that is primarliy…
Proteinuria and blood pressure
Hypertension Profile Hypertension profile is a panel of blood tests done to analyse the cause of hypertension or high blood…
Crossfit with rope
CrossFit: Now get the perfectly sculpted body with this explosive gym routine CrossFit is a fitness regimen that makes use of high-intensity exercises in a shorter period to achieve muscle…
GM Diet: The fastest way to lose weight or yet another hoax diet? General Motors started this trend of extreme dieting for 7 straight days to ensure its employees were able…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
free thyroxine ft4
Free thyroxine test (FT4) The FT4 or free thyroxine test is used to detect the level of free thyroxine of FT4 thyroid…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
Top reasons why you need to pay attention to your vitamin B6 intake Vitamin B6- An essential water-soluble vitamin. Its deficiency leads to physical changes such as sores & glossy tongue…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients but low on calories. It is the dream food that can help…
blood ketone test
Blood Ketone (D3HB) Test The Blood Ketone Test measures and monitors the levels of ketone in the blood which is usually performed…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
understanding addiction
Addiction explained: An obsession that could cost you your life Is addiction a behavioral disorder? Or is it a chronic disease? How does addiction cause chemical and structural…
amylase test
Amylase Test Amylase test is done by checking the level of this protein in the blood sample and also in…
kidney stones
Kidney stones Kidney stones are solid substances made up of crystals. They can be of various sizes. Treatment depend on…
cytomegalovirus igm test
Cytomegalo Virus (CMV) – IgM Test The CMV antibodies include both IgM and IgG antibodies which are the immune system's response to a CMV…
folate test
Folate test The Folate test measures and monitors the levels of folic acid in the blood. This test is also…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
Cardiolipin Antibody (ACL) –IgG Test The cardiolipin antibody IgG are responsible for the abnormal formation of clots in veins and arteries or phlebitis…
lipoprotein A
Lipoprotein (A) Test Lipoprotein (A) test is used to measure and monitor the levels of LDL(Low-Density Lipoprotein) in the bloodstream in…
Diabetes blood test
Diabetic Profile The diabetic profile is a set of tests used for testing and monitoring the various kinds of Diabetes…
Anti-Inflammatory foods: 18 foods to a disease-free you Anti-inflammatory foods are the foods which are known to reduce the inflammation as well as the pain from…
The Shepherd's diet
Facts about the Shepherd’s diet Kristina Wilds promoted Shepherd's diet, a Christian-based diet that highlights Jesus Christ's diet as mentioned in the Bible.

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