The aim of writing this articles is to throw some light on a critical and less known topic called ' Lead poisoning'. I believe lead is silent killer because the slow accumulation of lead is not recognizable and we are unable to take any step treat it. However there are many ways to prevent the lead poisoning.

 

Let us first understand what is lead, what is its impact on our body and how body reacts when lead level exceeds to a certain level. Lead is a solid, heavy, ductile metal element. It is soluble in Nitric acid while insoluble in water, however it dissolves slowly in water containing weak acid. Like iron, lead does not rust or erode; it binds easily with metals.

Lead is very commonly found in our everyday environment. For instance it is present in soil, water, air and even food. Lead and its compounds have been widely used in certain products like paint, batteries, water pipes, cosmetics, etc.

Air is another source of lead as it is exposed to air through industrial processes like burning of lead contaminated used oils, and smelting of ores.

Drinking water has been the greatest source of lead due to leakage of lead from the pipes and brass faucets in kitchen sinks

Now a days lead has been present in food items. Recently there was a news about the presence of significant amount of lead in 'Maggie'. Many such instances have occurred in past where lead had been deliberately added in food items.

Many of us might question how much of lead can be considered as toxic to health? Usually there is no threshold level of lead in our blood, because every small consumption or exposure to lead can cause some or other harm to our body. However the lead level above 10microgram per dL is considered as toxic to our body.

 

What is the impact or effect of excess lead on our body?

Children are commonly affected by lead toxicity than adults as they absorb lead more easily than adults. Also the nervous system of children are not enough mature and still in developing phase, hence the nervous system gets easily affected by lead.

 Acute lead poisoning where a person has consumed lead knowingly or unknowingly withing short span of time, will produce symptoms like severe and sudden pain in abdomen, constipation, anemia, weakness; in severe cases it may cause convulsions, and may go into coma.

Chronic or sub acute lead poisoning occurs when a person has been continuously exposed to lead in smaller amount. This condition is commonly seen in children. In such cases, children develops low IQ level, shorter attention time, lower intelligence, and slow reaction time. Excess lead can affect the functions of the kidneys.

Excess lead exposure in adults can affect the reproductive system. Pregnant women may deliver low birth weight baby, or may develop the birth defects in baby.

 

Most of the symptoms of lead poisoning are very common hence it is difficult to diagnose and most of the time neglected by doctors. However 2 signs are of great value which indicates the presence of lead in our body tissue - First sign is the continuous blue lines on the gums and second sign is the presence of lead in the urine which can be detected by laboratory examination of the urine.

 

How to manage the excess of lead in our body?

Removal of excess lead from the soft tissues of our body is the only way to treat the lead poisoning. Certain drugs like EDTA, are useful to remove excess of lead from the body. Chelation therapy can be useful treatment in children to relieve the symptoms of poisoning.

Prevention is the best and only way to avoid lead exposure.

Some of the following tips should guide you to prevent your child from exposing to lead.

  • Lead is commonly present in home paints and many children has habit of eating the wall paint. Avoid painting your house with the lead containing paint. Purchase lead free paint. Check the container of paint for lead free information or ask about it to the seller. 
  • Many furniture's and children toys contain lead. Lead is mainly present in toys designed by oil paints. Look for free of oil paint toys.
  • Do not drink hot water directly from the tap. The water pipes are made of lead, whenever you use hot water from the tap, the lead from the pipe leaks into the water. In case you need to drink hot or warm water, let the water run for 1min so that excess lead goes away and then use the water for drinking.
  • Excess boiling of water can also increase the concentration of lead in the water as it does not dissolve with water. Boiling helps to get rid of bacteria and viruses but heavy metals like lead is difficult to get rid of, instead boiling makes it more worse.
  • Ask your city for the information of the lead levels in your city water, lead level of 5microgram per dL is considered to be normal, anything above this value will make tap water not drinkable.
  • If the water pipes are installed way long years back its time to replace them with low lead containing pipes.

Many people are aware of its ill effects on our body hence they have been taking action to prevent lead exposure, however still many of us does not enough information about the lead exposure. I hope this article creates some awareness among the common people and take action to prevent the lead poisoning.

 


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