When it comes to health risks of lead, children under age 6 are most at-risk from small amounts of lead. This is because their bodies are still developing and during normal and frequent playing or hand-to-mouth activity, children may swallow or inhale dust from their hands, toys, food or other objects. In children, lead poses the following risks:
Nervous system damage
Attention deficit disorder
Furthermore, children only process out fifty percent of the lead that they absorb! You might be thinking where does the rest go? Unfortunately, most of the remaining lead is stored in the bones of the child. This toxic lead can then be released as their life progresses and bones develop.
To add to the problem of deteriorating lead-based paint, our water systems were joined with lead for several years. In a recent article by USA Today a shocking fact is revealed. Over 2,000 water systems across all 50 states have excessive lead levels. To read the articles click here.
Adults are definitely less susceptible to lead poisoning, however lead will devastate an adult human body. For adults, pregnant women are especially at risk from exposure to lead. Lead is passed from the mother to the fetus and can cause the following:
Low birth weight
Additional health effects of lead in adults include:
Fertility problems in men and women
High blood pressure
Memory and concentration problems
Muscle or joint pain
Lead-based paint is dangerous because the signs and symptoms of poisoning are not as outwardly obvious as in other cases of exposure to dangerous chemicals. These effects can often be attributed to other factors unknowingly, while the exposure continues undetected. Some additional and misleading signs of lead poisoning include:
Joint and/or muscle pain
Loss of appetite
Because many symptoms are non-specific or like flu symptoms, parents may not be alerted to get immediate medical attention for their children. This is critical for young children. The longer a young child stays untreated, the higher the risk of permanent brain damage.
Workers with an occupational exposure to lead need to inform their doctors in order to give them all the background needed for an adequate evaluation of symptoms as possibly related to lead exposure. This is why it is also important to know the date of construction before doing renovations of any kind. Stay lead safe so they can play lead safe!