Leading Facts on Lead Poisoning
Lead poisoning, also called plumbism or painter’s colic, is a serious medical condition resulting from exposure to extreme levels of lead from the environment. It can cause irreversible neurologic and multiple systemic complications and even death. The effects of lead have been known throughout the centuries as it used to be a thriving industry and the use of this heavy metal was common. However, it is only several years ago that the extent of its effect on human health has been considered intently.
Lead comes as a natural bluish gray-colored metal found in trivial amounts in all parts of the environment. Most of it is produced from burning fossil fuels, mining and the manufacturing industry. Lead was banned as an additive to gasoline, paints, water pipes and other products because of its dangers to health. Nonetheless, there are still products being manufactured nowadays that have high lead levels.
Lead also remains in the environment even after several years, since the substance itself cannot be broken up. Lead compounds are only altered by sunlight, air and water and thus move to different areas before settling on the ground. These particles adhere to soil particles and can eventually move into the groundwater.
The toxicity of lead is very potent. Lead poisoning is considered a subtle health hazard because even with high lead levels, a person may seem well. Lead poisoning symptoms are also general and may be caused by other ailments. But unknowingly, it is already causing serious damage to organs inside the body. Lead poison can linger in the body and may not be easily removed. Exposure to small amounts over a long period of time can eventually cause lead build up in the body. Damage to organs and body functions depend on the amount of exposure to the lead content.
Means of Lead Exposure
People can be victims of lead poisoning when they ingest food or drinking water that is contaminated with lead. Lead in water pipes of old homes can pollute drinking water. Staying or working in areas where lead-based paints were used or areas with deteriorating lead paint can also produce lead poisoning symptoms. Occupations related to painting, construction, house remodeling, battery or scrap metal recycling, radiator repairs, pottery or ceramics manufacturing, ammunitions or guns, industries that use lead solders, and those related to roadwork or shipbuilding all poses high risks for lead exposure. People working in these lead-related industries can also expose their family members to lead through their working clothes and lead dust.
Hobbies that make use of lead-based substances like making stained glass, jewelry-making, pottery or ceramics glazing and firing, and refinishing furniture can also trigger lead heavy metal poisoning symptoms. Traditional folk remedies and cosmetics have been proven to contain high lead levels and are not recommended for use. Examples of these remedies are azarcon and greta, Pay-loo-ah, Ghasard, Bala Goli and Kandu, kohl and surma and ayurvedic medicines.
Children can ingest lead by putting lead-contaminated objects like paint chips in their mouths or touching lead-based objects or dust and eating with their fingers afterwards. Children are more prone to lead poisoning because lead affects the development of the nervous system often resulting to low intelligence and serious health complications. Unborn children are most susceptible because pregnant mothers exposed to lead can pass the toxic substance to their babies.