How Does Lead Poisoning Occur?

Lead is a toxic metal that is found in the earth’s crust. Although it has some beneficial uses, extensive use of lead has resulted in widespread environmental contamination. Since people are exposed to lead from so many sources, lead poisoning is a significant public health problem. However, it is possible to prevent lead poisoning:

  • If you know how to avoid exposing yourself to lead, and

  • If you know the early signs and symptoms of lead poisoning so that you can seek early treatment.

Learn more about lead poisoning below:

How Do People Get Lead Poisoning?

Lead poisoning can take place for an extended period, sometimes over months or even years. Because of the cumulative nature of lead poisoning, even a small amount of lead can lead to problems over time. While anyone is susceptible to lead poisoning, some demographics are particularly vulnerable, like children under the age of six. Lead poisoning is not only detrimental to physical and mental development, but in sufficiently high concentration, lead poisoning may even prove to be fatal.

How Do People Get Lead Poisoning?

To ensure you and your family are safe from the possible severe consequences of lead poisoning, you will want to ensure that you are well informed about the most common sources of lead. By knowing the most common lead sources, you will be able to avoid exposing yourself and your family to this dangerous condition.

For example, many cases of lead exposure occur because people live in buildings that still have lead paint. In buildings built before the 1970s, it was common to use paint that contained more than trace amounts of lead when constructing residential units. Today, as this paint ages and decays, it can also contribute to lead-contaminated dust. In many cases, lead paint is the source of exposure to lead for children.

There are many ways that a person might be exposed to lead through environmental factors. In many urban areas and near highways, there is lead-contaminated soil, and people are exposed to the lead in the ground as a result of weather changes or sudden movement by cars. Other environmental factors include: lead pipes may release particles into tap water that a person may subsequently drink, and in some cases, toys produced in places without restrictions against the use of certain materials may include traces of lead.

Also, exposure to lead may occur when a person uses a folk remedy, such as Daw Tway, Ba-baw-san, Ghasard, and Greta. Lead may accidentally get into these herbal and mineral folk remedies during the process of making them.

What are the Symptoms of Lead Poisoning?

There are a number of symptoms that may indicate a person is struggling with lead poisoning. In instances where children are suffering from lead poisoning, symptoms include:

  • Difficulty with learning,

  • Loss in appetite,

  • Fatigue or sluggishness,

  • Delay in development, general irritability,

  • Loss of weight, seizures,

  • Intense pain in the abdomen or vomiting,

  • Hearing loss, constipation, and

  • Pica (the consumption of things that are not actually food, including chips of paint).

When an adult is suffering from lead poisoning, they may exhibit behaviors like difficulty with concentration or memory, mood disorders, and either a reduction in the production of sperm or the creation of sperm that is abnormal. They may also suffer from pain in the abdomen, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and have high blood pressure.

A newborn with lead poisoning will present different symptoms than either a child or an adult. Infants who have been exposed to lead may have a lower weight at birth, a decreased rate of growth, and may be born prematurely. Because of the dire nature of these symptoms, exposure to lead before birth can prove to be especially hazardous.