In 1978, after it was discovered that lead was harmful to humans, the use of lead-based paint was banned, for the construction of homes, and buildings, etc. Lead-based paint, and lead-contaminated dust are among the leading causes of exposure in humans. Houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some amount of hazardous lead. When lead paint deteriorates, it becomes even more easily transmittable, and thus especially dangerous to humans.
Who Is At Risk From Lead Poisoning?
Young children, because of their proclivity to ingest things not designed for ingestion, are at higher risks for lead poisoning. Children, especially those toddler-aged and below, are also far more likely to explore their surroundings with their hands. If these young children then put their hands-to-mouth, they could potentially transfer dangerous contaminants into their system.
A new study also shows that 9/11 responders may have been overexposed to lead, and are now suffering the long-term consequences. A study of over 500 rescue workers has yielded some unexpected and upsetting results. Various cancers, pulmonary diseases, and circulatory disorders have been found in some test participants. The prioritization of the study, moving forward, is to analyze whether or not there is a correlation between their involvement in the 9/11 rescue operation and their condition. Scientists are also investigating a possible link between kidney and heart disease and prior exposure to heavy metals- including lead. See Also: Occupational Lead Exposure
Symptoms of Lead Poisoning
- High-blood pressure
- Abdominal Pain
- Quaking / Shivers
- Lethargy & Fatigue
- Joint & Muscle Pain
- Reduced sperm count
- Loss of appetite / Weight Loss
These are symptoms you can reasonably expect to encounter if you are a full-grown adult that has been exposed to lead. However, more serious problems could arise if young or newborn children encounter toxic levels of lead. At that age, lead exposure can result in learning and developmental disorders, or equally as alarming, could stunt young children’s growth. Lead exposure can also cause miscarriages in pregnant women.
If you suffer from ANY of these symptoms, or you believe that you’ve come in contact with lead, contact your doctor or report directly to the nearest hospital.
What You Can Do?
There are many steps you can do to prevent, or help minimize, the risks of lead contamination. First, schedule a home inspection with a licensed professional. They can take a deep and careful look at the paint on your walls, as well as the architecture itself, and identify problem areas. You can do an amateur version of this by keeping a vigilant eye out for cracked or peeling paint, and by making certain that children never interact with chipped or flaked-off paint. It’s also in the best interest of your child that you keep the items they interact with regularly clean and devoid of contaminant. This means toys, utensils, cribs, mobiles, stuffed animals, etc. Contaminated dust can accumulate in the crevices of such things, and pose a danger to the well-being of any child handling such items. Make sure to habitually scrub clean your child’s favorite things!
Window ledges and jambs, and the area in front of doors, are the most likely infiltration points in your home when it comes to lead-contaminants. Adults, be sure to pay special attention to these areas during routine house-cleanings.
Only use pots, pans, dishes, and cookware that explicitly state that they’re lead free.
Invest in a reverse-osmosis or carbon water filter. Filtering tap water through one of these devices will provide for healthier drinking water and a decrease in likelihood that you’ll accidentally drink unsafe traces of lead.
Shoes worn in the house can track lead dust in from outside. A “no-shoe” policy indoors could help minimize lead levels in the home.
Ascorbic acid supplements (Vitamin C) may decrease lead-levels in the body.
If you are pregnant, it’s best to play it safe- when choosing a place to live, avoid any structures built before 1978.