Lead poisoning: causes, effects, and prevention
Lead paint and lead poisoning
Lead Poisoning is caused by exposure to hazardous lead, mainly from deteriorating lead paint. Inhaling lead paint dust is the number one cause of lead poisoning. Eating paint chips is also a cause.
Lead is a neurotoxin, that can cause irreversible health effects, including brain damage. Both adults and children can suffer from the effects of lead poisoning, but childhood lead poisoning is much more frequent. Most lead is microscopic and you cannot see it. More often than not, children with lead poisoning were exposed to lead paint in their own home from inhaling or ingesting lead dust on the floor or on window sills. High impact surfaces such as windows and doors create the most significant lead paint hazards, because the two surfaces rub against each other and wear away the paint turning it into dust.
Until 1978, lead paint was commonly used on the interiors and exteriors of homes. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that about 38 million homes in the US still contain some lead paint.
Children and adults can get seriously lead poisoned during renovation and remodeling in a home that contains lead paint. The debris and the dust created by the renovation must be contained and thoroughly cleaned up. Paint should be identified as lead based or non-lead based before work begins, and lead-safe work practices must be used during paint removal to prevent lead poisoning.
Using LEAD-OUT® Paint Stripper greatly reduces the risks involved with lead paint removal.
Health effects of Lead Poisoning
Young children under the age of six are especially vulnerable to lead's harmful health effects, and even very low levels of exposure can result in reduced IQ, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, behavioral problems, stunted growth, impaired hearing, and kidney damage. At high levels of exposure, a child may become mentally retarded, fall into a coma, and even die from lead poisoning.
In adults, lead can increase blood pressure and cause fertility problems, nerve disorders, muscle and joint pain, irritability, and memory or concentration problems. It takes a significantly greater level of exposure to lead for adults than it does for kids to sustain adverse health effects. Most adults who are lead poisoned get exposed to lead at work. Occupations related to house painting, welding, renovation and remodeling activities, smelters, firing ranges, the manufacture and disposal of car batteries, and the maintenance and repair of bridges and water towers, are particularly at risk for lead exposure.
When a pregnant woman has an elevated blood lead level, that lead can easily be transferred to the fetus, as lead crosses the placenta. In fact, pregnancy itself can cause lead to be released from the bone, where lead is stored—often for decades.
Exposure to lead is estimated by measuring levels of lead in the blood (in micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood). The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set a "level of concern" for children at 10 micrograms per deciliter. At this level, it is generally accepted that adverse health effects can begin to set in. However, recent research published in the New England Journal of Medicine provides new evidence that there could be very harmful effects occurring at levels of exposure as low as 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. In other words, science is now telling us there is no level of lead exposure considered safe.
The most effective permanent solution to lead paint is to remove it with LEAD OUT® Paint Stripper.