What are the uses of lead?
Are all forms of lead the same?
What are the primary sources of lead exposure?
What are the potential health effects from exposure to lead?
Who is generally at the greatest risk?
What are the steps in lead poisoning treatment?
1. What are the uses of lead?
Lead has been used for centuries in a multitude of applications and continues to be used today. Historically, the most common uses were as the white pigment in house paint and in automotive gasoline, both of which have been phased out in the United States. Currently, lead is used for energy storage in vehicles, and for alternative energy or emergency backup power, radiation shielding and many other applications.
2. Are all forms of lead the same?
It is important to note that all forms of lead are not equal when it comes to health. The naturally occurring lead found in lead concentrate, for example, is a relatively inert form, not easily absorbed into the body. Lead found in old paint or leaded gasoline (both of which have been phased out in the United States) is processed lead and is no longer inert; it therefore poses concern because paint dust and leaded-gasoline emissions can be inhaled.
3. What are the primary sources of lead exposure?
For children, the most common source of lead exposure is lead-based paint deteriorated into chips and lead dust (Centers for Disease Control, 2012). Other common sources of lead ingestion include pottery and drinking water.
4. What are the potential health effects from exposure to lead?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, lead-based paint (often found in homes built before 1978) is the most widespread source of lead exposure for preschool children, the group that is most at risk for lead poisoning. Symptoms of lead poisoning can include learning difficulties and impaired mental development, according to the Mayo Clinic (2011). Severe lead exposure can also have effects on the central nervous system, blood system and kidneys, and has been associated with an increased incidence of miscarriage and stillbirth. For additional resources, please visit the Centers for Disease Control.
5. Who is generally at the greatest risk?
Studies have shown that the groups most at risk for lead exposure are children under the age of six and women of childbearing age (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2010). For more information, contact your physician.
6. What are the steps in lead poisoning treatment?
According to the Mayo Clinic (2011), low-level lead elevation is generally addressed by reducing and controlling the source. Very high levels can be treated medically. For more information, contact your physician.