Lead Poisoning

What Is It and Where Found

Lead (Plumbism) is a very strong poison. When an individual swallows a lead item or inhales lead dust, a few of the poison can remain in the body and cause severe illness.

This article is for info only. Do NOT use it to treat or manage a real poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your regional emergency situation number (such as 911), or your regional poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

Lead used to be very common in gas and house paint in the United States. Children living in cities with older homes are most likely to have high levels of lead.

Although gas and paint are not made with lead in them, lead is still a health issue. Lead is all over, consisting of dirt, dust, new toys, and old house paint. Unfortunately, you can not see, taste, or smell lead.

It is estimated that more than 3 million employees in the United States are at risk for toxic lead direct exposure.

Lead is discovered in:

  • Homes painted before 1978. Even if the paint is not peeling, it can be a problem. Lead paint is extremely harmful when it is being stripped or sanded. These actions launch fine lead dust into the air. Infants and children living in pre-1960’s real estate (when paint frequently included lead) have the highest risk of lead poisoning. Small children frequently swallow paint chips or dust from lead-based paint.
  • Toys and furnishings painted prior to 1976
  • Painted toys and decorations made outside the U.S.
  • Lead bullets, fishing sinkers, curtain weights
  • Pipes, plumbing, and faucets. Lead can be found in drinking water in houses including pipes that were connected with lead solder. Although brand-new building codes require lead-free solder, lead is still discovered in some contemporary faucets.
  • Soil polluted by years of car exhaust or years of house paint scrapings. Lead is more typical in soil near highways and homes.
  • Pastimes involving soldering, stained glass, jewelry making, pottery glazing, and mini lead figures (always take a look at labels).
  • Children’s paint sets and art materials (constantly take a look at labels).
  • Pewter pitchers and tableware.
  • Storage batteries.

Children get lead in their bodies when they put lead items in their mouths, especially if they swallow those objects. They can likewise get lead poison on their fingers from touching a dusty or peeling lead things, and then putting their fingers in their mouths or consuming food later. Children likewise can breathe in tiny quantities of lead.

Lead Poisoning Symptoms

There are numerous possible symptoms of lead poisoning. Lead can impact many different parts of the body. A single high dosage of lead can cause severe emergency symptoms.

However, it is more typical for lead poisoning to build up gradually over time. This occurs from repeated exposure to percentages of lead. In this case, there might not be any apparent symptoms. Over time, even low levels of lead direct exposure can hurt a child’s mental development. The health issue become worse as the level of lead in the blood gets higher.

Lead is a lot more harmful to children than grownups since it can affect children’s developing nerves and brains. The more youthful the child, the more hazardous lead can be. Coming children are the most susceptible.

Possible complications include:

  • Behavior or attention issues.
  • Failure at school.
  • Hearing problems.
  • Kidney damage.
  • Reduced IQ.
  • Slowed body development.

The symptoms of lead poisoning may include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping (generally the first sign of a high, poisonous dosage of lead poison).
  • Aggressive habits.
  • Anemia.
  • Constipation.
  • Trouble getting pregnant.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Headaches.
  • Hearing loss.
  • Irritation.
  • Loss of previous developmental skills (in children).
  • Low cravings and energy.
  • Minimized experiences.

Really high levels of lead may cause vomiting, staggering walk, muscle weakness, seizures, or coma.

Home Care after Lead Poisoning

You can minimize direct exposure to lead with the following steps:

  • If you believe you might have lead paint in your house, get suggestions on safe elimination from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at 800-RID-LEAD, or the National Information Center at 800-LEAD-FYI. Another excellent source of details is the National Lead Information Center– www.epa.gov/lead at -LRB-800-RRB-¬†424-5323.
  • Keep your home as dust-free as possible.
  • Have everybody clean their hands prior to eating.
  • Throw away old painted toys if you do unknown whether the paint contains lead.
  • Let faucet water run for a minute prior to drinking or cooking with it.
  • If your water has actually evaluated high in lead, think about setting up a reliable filtering device or switch to bottled water for drinking and cooking.
  • Avoid canned products from foreign countries till the ban on lead soldered cans goes into impact.

Prior to Calling Emergency

Offer the following info to emergency support:

  • The person’s age, weight, and condition.
  • The name of the product or the things you think had lead in it.
  • The date/time the lead was swallowed or inhaled.
  • The quantity swallowed or breathed in.

However, DO NOT delay calling for assistance if this info is not instantly available.

Can You Recover From Lead Poisoning

Poison Control

If somebody has severe symptoms from possible lead direct exposure (such as vomiting or seizures) call 911 immediately.

For other symptoms that you believe may be brought on by lead poisoning, call your regional poison control center.

Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This hotline number will let you talk with experts in poisoning. They will offer you further directions.

This is a totally free and private service. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison avoidance. You can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

Except in severe cases where somebody has been exposed to a high dosage of lead, a trip to the emergency clinic is not necessary. Contact your healthcare supplier or department of public health if you presume possible low-level lead exposure.

A blood lead test can help determine whether a problem exists. Over 10 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) or 0.48 micromol/L is a definite concern. Levels between 2 and 10 mcg/dL (0.10 to 0.48 micromol/L) ought to be discussed with your doctor. In lots of states, blood screening is suggested for young children at risk.

Other laboratory tests may consist of:

  • Bone marrow biopsy.
  • Complete blood count (CBC) and coagulation research studies.
  • Erythrocyte protoporphyrin.
  • Iron level.
  • X-ray of the long bones and abdomen.

For children whose blood levels of lead are reasonably high, recognize all significant sources of lead direct exposure and keep the child far from them. Follow-up blood screening may be required.

Chelation therapy is a procedure that can get rid of high levels of lead that have built up in an individual’s body over time.

In cases where someone has actually possibly eaten a high poisonous dosage of lead in a brief time period, the following treatments might be done:

  • Bowel watering (flushing out) with polyethylene glycol service.
  • Gastric lavage (washing out the stomach).

Outlook (Prognosis)

Grownups who have actually had mildly high lead levels often recuperate without issues. In children, even moderate lead poisoning can have a long-term effect on attention and IQ.

Individuals with greater lead levels have a higher risk of lasting health issue. They must be followed carefully.

Their nerves and muscles can be significantly affected and may no longer work as well as they should. Other body systems may be harmed to different degrees, such as the kidneys and blood vessels. Individuals who make it through hazardous lead levels may have some irreversible brain damage. Children are more vulnerable to severe long-term issues.

A total recovery from chronic lead poisoning may take months to years.


Last modified: February 4, 2017

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