Exposure to lead in the household is a very dangerous risk to young children. Children under the age of six years old are most vulnerable to lead poisoning according to the Mayo Clinic. Lead poisoning in young children can affect physical and mental development. Lead can be fatal in very large amounts. Pregnant women and women of child bearing age are vulnerable to lead poisoning as well. Lead that has been ingested by pregnant women can pass through the placenta and affect the fetus.
There is no cure for lead poisoning and it can causes irreversible health problems. Even at very low levels, lead poisoning can cause decreased attention span, hyperactivity, impaired growth, learning disabilities, insomnia and decreased IQ levels. Older buildings pose a significant lead poisoning hazard. Lead based paint and lead contaminated dust are the most common sources of lead poisoning, especially in children. Contaminated soil, toys, water and even air can contribute to leas poisoning. With low levels of lead, lead poisoning symptoms may not be apparent, so a blood test would be the only way that could tell if a person has been exposed to lead. Exposure to lead from peeling lead based paint and lead contaminated dust are the primary sources for lead exposure in young children. Young children are often exposed to lead from lead dust that has fallen to the ground. The child will touch the dust and then put his or her hands in their mouth. Children may also be exposed to significant amounts of lead from ingesting lead based paint chips.
Soil contaminated with lead based paint chips and remnants of lead based gas can also pose a significant lead poisoning threat to children. Even drinking water can pose a significant risk of lead poisoning. Lead can leach out of the pipes in the drinking water supply and cause lead poisoning. Toys painted with lead based paint can be especially dangerous to small children, as they frequently put things in their mouths which can cause them to ingest a significant amount of lead, leading to lead poisoning. Even produce that has been grown in lead tainted soil can cause a person to ingest significant amount of lead, leading to lead poisoning, according to the CDC.
Other lesser known sources of lead are from glazed ceramic plates and lead crystal drinking glasses. Lead poisoning is a highly dangerous condition and except in severely poisoned children, there is no current treatment for lead poisoning. Certain drugs can decrease the amount of lead that is present in the body, but it cannot reverse the damage that lead poisoning has already done in the body. A blood test is the only definitive way to check for levels of lead in the blood. If you suspect that you or your children have been exposed to lead, contact you doctor or healthcare provider immediately.
Thankfully, very high levels of lead exposure is now very rare in the United States, but none the less, very high levels of lead exposure leading to lead poisoning can cause retardation, convulsions, coma and ultimately death.
Sources – Mayo Clinic – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/lead-poisoning/FL00068