Why Lead Poisoning is Dangerous and How to Prevent It

Lead is a naturally occurring element that is extremely harmful to humans. When too much is ingested or absorbed by the body, it can be fatal.

Lead poisoning can happen to anyone, though infants and children are more susceptible because they are more likely to come into contact with lead-laced particles from the environment around them. Since they’re still growing, their bodies will absorb the lead easier.

Thankfully, lead poisoning is easily avoidable by taking preventive measures.

How Does Lead Poisoning Happen?

When the levels of lead in your environment are abnormally high, it puts you more at risk of being exposed to harmful amounts of lead in your body. When too much lead gets ingested from lead-laced contaminants, it will result in lead poisoning.

In most instances, adults will get exposed to lead from unexpected sources like water or their workplace air. For children, their exposure is more preventable since they have tendencies to ingest lead from unusual materials.

Materials that Contain Lead

While lead occurs naturally in the world, there are specific environments and materials where it’s easier to come in contact with lead particles.

  • Lead-Based Paint: Most older homes have paint made with lead. The older the paint gets, the more it’ll dry and fleck off, creating lead particles that float around and get in contact with our bodies.
  • Soil: The Earth’s soil around us may be laced with lead due to human activities that emit the particles into the environment and stick to the ground after they settle.

Dangers and Symptoms

Too much ingested lead can have a severe impact on every part of your body, from organs to components of the nervous system. Children who develop lead poisoning can suffer from many disabling conditions, including:

  • Anemia
  • Behavior and learning problems
  • Hearing problems
  • Nervous system damage
  • Seizures
  • Slowed growth

For adults whose body and brain are already formed, lead poisoning will affect them differently, likely leading to:

  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Reproductive issues
  • Weakened kidney

Ways to Prevent Lead Poisoning

As scary as lead poisoning can be, it’s also simple to avoid. Young children are easily susceptible because they are more likely to ingest random materials that they come across in their daily routine. The best way to prevent lead poisoning is by stopping children and adults from coming into contact with lead particles.

When you know where the particles are originating from, it’s easy to identify, control and remove them safely.

  1. Maintain all Painted Surfaces: Repainting chipped paint or removing it entirely during a construction project will prevent paint particles laced with lead from getting loose and spreading.
  2. Clean and Mop Your Floors Regularly: Household dust is a major source for lead particles that kids may come in contact with. Cleaning and wiping down your floors and hard surfaces will get rid of these particles before they’re ingested.
  3. Keep a Balanced Diet: People who lack a well-balanced diet will absorb lead easier because their body is seeking better health. Proper nutrition will prevent this. By maintaining a healthy diet with vitamins, minerals and nutrients, your body will not attempt to absorb as much lead.
  4. Create Barriers Between Your Child and Lead Sources: Infants are mobile whether you like it or not. Make sure they do not have access to lead sources like peeling painted walls or dusty corners so you don’t have to worry about them eating it.
  5. Wash Your Child’s Hands and Toys Often: Hands can get contaminated with lead particles from daily activity and toys can get coated in lead dust. Cleaning both regularly will prevent accidental ingestion from licking fingers.

How to Treat

Treatment for lead poisoning is based on how much lead makes it into the bloodstream. You will need to seek out a physician to properly test and treat with medication to eliminate the lead exposure.

A healthy diet will also help regulate your system. Vitamin and calcium-rich foods will provide proper nutrients and iron-rich foods will bring your iron levels back to normal and protect against harmful lead.

The easiest way to confirm if you or your child is experiencing lead poisoning is with a blood test. A simple blood test from your general physician, local health agency or laboratory can determine how much lead is in your blood and if treatment is needed.

Test Area Exposure to Lead

If your area is receiving reports of lead poisoning, or you’re about to break ground on a new site,  it is essential to test your environment and make sure the levels of lead are normal. The EPA and FDA have regulations in place for how much lead is allowed in the workplace air, water, food and soil.

Environmental Hazards Services is an analytical testing laboratory in Richmond that specializes in lead testing. We have the advanced facility and equipment needed to support your lead investigative needs. Lead poisoning can be fatal, so it’s important to make sure the environment around you contains safe levels. Get in contact with us if you need lead testing laboratory services.