Lead is a naturally occurring toxic metal and the World Health Organization says that it’s also a cumulative toxicant. This means that exposure to it can cause the metal’s toxins to accumulate in multiple organs like the brain, liver, kidneys, bones and teeth. This accumulation can affect the functioning of the body and lead to diseases and health issues.
The WHO says that no level of lead poisoning is acceptable for one’s health and that the toxic metal is present in high quantities in the world. Mining, smelting and manufacturing processes to produce everything from batteries to ammunition causes environmental lead contamination. Lead is also present in high concentrations in paint, gasoline, aviation fuel, stained glass, ceramic glazes, jewellery, toys and even cosmetic products.
Awareness about lead exposure and its negative effects on your health is necessary. The WHO and other global organisations come together every year to campaign against lead exposure during the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week between 25 October and 31 October. At the very centre of this campaign lies the fact that lead poisoning is entirely preventable.
Symptoms of lead poisoning
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that since some of the symptoms of lead poisoning are similar to other diseases it may be overlooked until it becomes severe. Severe lead poisoning causes anemia, weakness, kidney and brain damage and is more likely to affect children than adults. It can even cause death.
What’s most alarming is the fact that lead can cross the placental barrier and affect the foetus of a pregnant woman to cause complications, developmental issues and even pregnancy loss. The following are some of the most common symptoms of lead poisoning that you should never ignore:
- Abdominal pain
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Increased irritability
- Loss of appetite
- Memory loss
- Pain or tingling in the hands and feet
Preventing lead poisoning
There are a few simple things you can do to minimise lead exposure and prevent a world of pain for yourself and your family. Here are a few steps you should take immediately:
- Ask your local health department or check local data to see if you live in an area with high lead exposure. If you do, get your water tested and get a thorough health checkup done for your entire family. Getting a good water purifier will also help immensely.
- Get rid of paint, painted toys and goods, rusted copper pipes and faucets with lead soldering and other products with high concentration of lead.
- Wash your hands before handling, cooking or eating food.
- Keep your home free of dust and dirt.
- Maintain a healthy diet that includes plenty of calcium and iron sources in it.
- Make sure your children don’t play in areas with high lead exposure. Teach them to wash their hands as soon as they come home after playing.
For more information, read our article on Lead poisoning.
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