What is Lead Poisoning?
Although many countries have initiated programs to lower the level of “Lead” in the environment, human exposure to lead remains of concerns to health care providers and public health officials worldwide. Several methods are used to detect elevated blood lead levels. The presence of changes in blood cells visible under a microscope or deletion of dense lines in the bones of children can be seen on X-Ray’s are some of the signs of Lead poisoning.
“Lead Poisoning” is a medical condition that occurs when people are exposed to lead compounds through inhalation, swallowing, and rarely, through the skin. Lead is a colorless, tasteless, and odorless metal that may be found in dirt, dust, toys, dishes, and furniture. Lead poisoning usually occurs from repeated exposure to small amounts of lead.
What causes Lead Poisoning?
Until the 1970’s, lead was commonly added to gasoline and house paint in North America. It remains in our environment within: older house paint, ammunition, fishing gear, weights, plumbing pipes and faucets. Lead can contaminate drinking water when lead solder is used to connect a homes plumbing system. Lead is also found in pewter pitchers, dinnerware, toys, storage batteries, and hobbies involving soldering such as stained glass, jewellery making, pottery glazing, paint sets and art supplies and miniature lead figures.
How does lead damage the body?
Lead mimics biologically helpful minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc. Most lead settles in the bone, interfering with the production of red blood cells “leading to anemia”. It also interferes with the absorption of calcium, which is required for strong bones, muscles, healthy muscle contraction, and blood vessel function.
- Children under the age of six, especially unborn babies, are most susceptible to lead poisoning because their brains and central nervous systems are still developing.
Childhood lead poisoning can cause:
- Reduced IQ
- Learning disabilities
- Attention Deficit Disorders
- Behavioral Problems
- Stunted Growth
- Hearing Problems
- Kidney Damage
- Stomach Pain
- Mental Disabilities or retardation
Adult Lead Poisoning:
Exposure in adults has a multitude of symptoms and often starts with abdominal pain and cramping, this may be followed by vomiting, staggering gait, muscle weakness, seizures or coma.
- High Blood Pressure
- Fertility Problems
- Nerve Disorders
- Muscle and Joint Pain
- Memory or Concentration Problems
- Aggressive Behavior
- Decreased Appetite
- Low Energy
- Difficulty Sleeping
- Reduced Sensations
Can Lead Poisoning Be Prevented?
Yes – Lead Poising is “Entirely” Preventable
How do you know if you have Lead poisoning?
A simple blood test is the screening test for lead poising. The current “level of concert” set by the U.S Center of Disease Prevention and Control is 10 micro-grams per deciliter, though recent studies indicate that there is “no safe level” of lead in the blood. Preventing lead poisoning before it occurs is “Paramount”
Treatment depends on how much lead is in the blood. In cases of mild lead poisoning, the source is identified, then removed or minimized. Appropriate nutrition is advised. In cases of severe lead poisoning, with blood lead levels equal to or above 45 micro-grams per deciliter, children are admitted for “chelation therapy“, which are medications that bind to and remove lead from the body.
Emergency medical care is “required” in severe cases of lead poisoning,. Contact your physician for more information on treatments and ways lead poisoning can be managed.
If your symptoms get worse at any time or you notice new symptoms from the list above, call your doctor or Health Link “811 in Alberta”. You can also call the “Health Link Alberta 24/7 if you have questions about C.Diff or any of the information in this handout.
This information was taken From Center of Disease Control “CDC” (Lead Poisoning Guide) Information slip, Delaware Health & Social services Public Health Division, W.H.O World Health Organization. Center of Disease Control Canada
“This material is for information purposes only. It should not be used in place of medical advice, instruction, and/or treatment. If you have questions, speak to your doctor or appropriate healthcare provider.”
In any emergency just remember to Protect Yourself!!! Call 911!!! Don’t Waste Time!!