Lead is an element that has proven to be extremely harmful to the health of people when inhaled or ingested. The effects are even more detrimental to the neurological system in the cases of children under the age of 6.
One can be exposed to lead in the following ways; inhalation of particles containing lead in the form of dust in the air or soil, ingestion of foods containing the element from water or soil and ingestion of water that is contaminated by lead in the form of paint chips, soil or dust. Lead poisoning has no unique signs and should be treated with extreme caution. Early symptoms include irritability, reduced attention span, loss of appetite, fatigue, insomnia and stomach discomfort. These symptoms can lead to even more drastic effects such as:
Nerve damage to the sense organs
Vision and hearing impairment
Lack of muscle co ordination
Decreased sperm count
Retarded fetal development even when exposed to low lead levels.
As mentioned before, lead poisoning in children is way more harmful due to the body being in its developmental phase. It can cause –
Nervous system damage
Delays in development
Death in extreme cases
Keeping these factors in mind, the presence of lead in gasoline and paint has been banned and neither of the two are sold or manufactured today. However, with smelting, mining and refining activities, there is a substantial increase in Lead levels in the environment. Higher levels are present near smelting and industrial sites. Medical tests for lead exposure are readily available in the form of the determining lead concentrations in the blood stream. These blood tests are inexpensive and hassle-free to go about. It might be difficult to diagnose lead poisoning right away because of its symptomatic similarities with other conditions. But, with medical testing a proper diagnosis can be achieved.
While a large portion of the population might not be at risk with lead poisoning, it is evident that Health and Lead don’t mix and it is important to remember that a doctor must be consulted as soon as possible if any of the above-mentioned symptoms are noted.