A Parent's Guide to Lead Poisoning

Lead is a metal that occurs naturally in the earth's crust. People have spread it through the environment in many ways. Lead used to be in paint and gasoline. Lead can still be found in contaminated soil, household dust, drinking water, lead-glazed pottery and some metal jewelry. Lead is a metal and that is poisonous and toxic to people, especially children, when it is ingested. It is no longer used as a gasoline additive (banned since the 1980s), or in lead-based household paint (banned since 1970s), but it does continue to be used in many products, including batteries, ammunition, solder, pipes, pottery glazes, toys, jewelry, printing inks and paint for industrial, military and marine use. And since lead that has contaminated soil from the past use of leaded paint and gasoline does not degrade or break down with time, children continue to be at risk for lead poisoning. Approximately 310,000 U.S. children aged 1-5 years have blood lead levels greater than 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, the level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated. Lead poisoning can affect nearly every system in the body. Not all effects of lead poisoning are apparent unless the amount of lead is extremely high, showing up in mild outward signs like headaches, irritability, or abdominal pain, which is easily attributable to other things. Lead can enter your body if you put your hand or another object into your mouth that contains lead dust on it, lead containing paint chips or soil is ingested, or lead dust is breathed in. By continuing to be exposed to the harmful effects of lead poisoning you are risking further, more permanent damage. Long-term, low level effects of lead poisoning can result in learning or behavioral problems like speech, learning, attention, behavior, and mental processing problems, and chronic high levels of lead exposure can lead to anemia, visible tooth damage, changes in kidney function, and nervous system damage resulting in seizures, comas, and death. Effects of lead poisoning during childhood and even before that is the most damaging time, but the cumulative effect of the lead based on the age of exposure, the amount of lead absorbed into the blood, and the length of exposure determines how much damage the effects of lead poisoning can cause. Effects of lead poisoning by a pregnant mother can be very harmful to the fetus. Effects of lead poisoning can cause premature birth, low birth rate, impairment of sensory motor development, miscarriage, and stillbirth. The EPA estimates that 9,150 children have an IQ score below 70 because of lead exposure. Effects of lead poisoning in adults may cause high blood pressure and damage to reproductive organs. When high lead blood levels exist in adults symptoms may range from death, coma, seizure, lack of coordination, vomiting, altered consciousness, bizarre behavior, a loss of recently acquired skills, and listlessness.

SOURCES OF LEAD Paint Lead was used in paint to add color, improve the ability of the paint to hide the surface it covers, and to make it last longer. It was used both inside and outside of a home. In 1978 the federal government banned lead paint for use in homes. In general, the older your home, the more likely it has lead-based paint. Painted toys and furniture made before 1978 may also contain lead-based paint. Children may eat paint chips or chew on the surfaces of cribs, high-chairs, windows, woodwork, walls, doors, or railings. Lead-based paint becomes dangerous when it chips, turns into dust, or gets into the soil.

LEAD POISONING FACTS The damage lead poison can have on the body is irreversible.

Where is Lead Found? Lead enters the body by breathing or swallowing dust containing lead or ingesting soil or lead based paint. Instead increase the hazardous conditions by allowing the lead dust to spread further throughout the house. Chipped lead based paint exposes children to a higher risk because they tend to put their hands, toys, and other objects in their mouths, ingesting the chips of lead based paint and risking permanent damage. Areas around windows or door areas, fencing, and porches and balconies wear more easily and should be taken care of if it contains lead based paint. Improper renovations on homes with lead based paint can increase exposure as well. Soil Before 1978 companies used to add lead to gasoline. Lead particles escaped from car exhaust systems and went into the air. This lead fell to the ground and mixed with soil near roads and is difficult to remove. Homes near busy streets may have high levels of lead in the soil. Today, lead still comes from metal smelting, battery manufacturing, and other factories that use lead. This too may contribute to the soil contamination of lead for homes near any of these sources. Flaking lead-based paint on the outside of buildings can also mix with the soil close to buildings. Lead-based paint mixing with soil is a big problem during home remodeling if workers are not careful. Once the soil has lead in it, wind can stir up lead dust, and blow it into homes and yards. Drinking Water Homes built before 1930 often have plumbing with lead in it. The lead in the plumbing can get into the water flowing through it. Older plumbing parts such as faucets, fittings, and pipes may contain lead. Older water well pumps made with brass or bronze parts may also contain lead. Copper pipes are now used in most homes, but lead solder may have been used to connect these pipes. In 1986 and 1988 laws were passed to prevent the use of lead in pipes, solder, and other plumbing parts. However, some new brass faucets and fixtures may still contain small amounts of lead. Lead is most likely to get into warm water that is soft or acidic. (Statement from MUD) Dust Lead dust is the most common way that people are exposed to lead. Inside the home, most lead dust comes from chipping and faking paint or when paint is scraped, burned, sanded, or disturbed during home remodeling. Chipping and peeling paint is found mostly on surfaces that rub or bump up against another surface. These surfaces include doors and windows. Young children who crawl and often put their hands and other objects in their mouths usually get exposed to lead when they put something with lead dust on it into their mouths. Lead dust may not be visible to the naked eye. Workplace & Hobbies People exposed to lead at work may bring lead home on their clothes, shoes, hair, or skin. Some jobs that expose people to lead include home improvement, painting and refinishing, car or radiator repair, plumbing, construction, welding and cutting, electronics, municipal waste incineration, battery manufacturing, lead compound manufacturing, rubber products and plastics manufacturing, lead smelting and refining, working in brass or bronze foundries, demolition, and working with scrap metal. Some hobbies also use lead. These hobbies include making pottery, stained glass, fishing, and refreshing furniture. If you work with lead, you could bring it home on your hands or clothes, shower and change clothes before coming home. Launder your work clothes separately from the rest of your family's clothes.

IMPORTED ITEMS Food Cans In 1995 the United States banned the use of lead solder on cans. But lead solder can still be found on cans made in other countries. These cans usually have wide seams, and the silver- gray solder along the seams contains the lead. Cans containing lead may be brought to the United States and sold. Over time the lead gets into the food. This happens faster after the can has been opened. Foods that are acidic cause lead to get into the food faster. Folk Medicines And Cosmetics Some folk medicines contain lead. Two examples are Greta and Azarcon. Azarcon is a bright orange powder also known as Maria Luisa, Rueda, Alarcon, and Coral. Greta is a yellow powder. They are used to treat an upset stomach. Pay-loo-ah also contains lead. It is a red powder used to treat a rash or a fever. Other folk medicines that contain lead include Bala (or Bala Goli), Golf, Ghasard, and Kandu. Some cosmetics such as Kohl (Alkohl) and Surma also contain lead. They often are imported from the Middle East, Southeast Asia, India, the Dominican Republic, or Mexico. Candies Or Foods Candy especially from Mexico, containing chili or tamarind. Lead can be found in candy, wrappers, pottery containers, and in certain ethnic foods, such as chapulines (dried grasshoppers). More information and advisories on lead in candy can be obtained from the FDA at www.fda.gov.

OTHER SOURCES Mini-Blinds Some non-glossy, vinyl mini-blinds from other countries contain lead. Some Pottery, Crystal and Tableware Lead may get into foods or liquids that have been stored in ceramics, pottery, china or crystal with lead in it. Lead-glazed dishes usually come from other countries. Metal Jewelry Lead has been found in inexpensive children's jewelry sold in vending machines across the country. It also has been found in inexpensive metal amulets worn for good luck or protection. Some costume jewelry designed for adults has also been found to contain lead. Check the internet for recalled children jewelry items.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS Toys Car Body Filler In Custom Cars Firearms Fishing Sinkers Candle Wicks Leaded Glass Organ Pipes Are A Mixture Of Lead And Tin Imported Crayons Lead Is Used As Electrodes In The Process Of Electrolysis Lead Is Used In Solder For Electronics High Voltage Power Cables As A Sheathing Material Lead Is Use In Roofing Materials Some Hair Dyes Make Up Products Billiard Chalk Vinyl Lunch Boxes

LEAD POISONING PREVENTION Even children who may appear to be healthy can have dangerously high levels of lead poisoning. Although lead poisoning prevention is easier than treatment, detecting lead can be challenging. By educating families about the dangers and possible sources of lead serious lead poisoning health complications can be eliminated, many of which cannot be reversed. Recognizing lead poisoning sources in order to eliminate them can keep children safe. There are temporary solutions and permanent solutions for reducing lead poisoning hazards. If you have damaged lead paint surfaces you can temporarily fix it by repairing it or planting grass over soil containing lead. While these actions do not eliminate all the risks of lead poisoning, they will create safer conditions immediately until a permanent solution is found. Permanent solutions to preventing lead poisoning include hiring a lead abatement contractor to completely eliminate the lead hazard. Lead abatement services will remove, seal, or enclose any lead based paints with special materials. Simply painting over the lead paint with regular paint does not completely take care of the problem of possible lead poisoning. Simple things like keeping your children's hands clean and their nails clipped short can help reduce the amount of potential lead they ingest. Since children tend to put their hands and other objects in their mouths, cleaning often and well can keep dust and dirt containing lead out of their mouths and into their blood, preventing lead poisoning. Keeping your home clean can also clear the lead in the air out and from letting it settle into carpet and furniture. Workers that are exposed to lead poisoning should change clothing before entering their home, and things as simple as wiping of your shoes before entering the house you can prevent dirt-containing lead from being tracked through your house

Rental properties that have been around since before 1978 and have paint that is peeling or chipped should have the landlord notified. Any paint chips should be cleaned up immediately until a permanent solution is provided. It is a good idea to check our your town's surroundings to make sure there are no industries giving of lead. Good nutrition helps accomplish this goal. A child's body craves certain minerals, including calcium and iron. When these minerals are deficient in the body, lead absorption is increased. Zinc may also have a beneficial impact with respect to lead absorption. Children whose diet is deficient in these minerals retain more of the lead than they would have otherwise.

WHAT CAN PARENTS DO TO PREVENT THEIR CHILDREN FROM GETTING LEAD POISONING? There are a number of simple, low-cost steps parents can take to reduce their children's lead exposure:

This information was provided by Confirm Biosciences.

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