The Problems And Dangers Of Lead

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The Problems & Dangers Of Lead


Lead has long been recognised as a harmful environmental pollutant. There
are many ways in which humans are exposed to lead and most of the time we may
not even be aware of it. Airborne lead enters the body when an individual
breathes in lead particles or swallows some lead dust. Until recently, the
most important airborne source of lead was automobile exhaust.

Since 1975, there has been a 95 percent reduction in the use of lead in
gasoline due to the Environmental Protection Agency's Phased own Program and
the replacement of older cars with newer cars that require the use of
unleaded gasoline. Seeking out sources of lead in the household and
surrounding areas can be crucial in safeguarding your family members,
especially children and pets. It has now been determined that the effects
from lead paint, household dust, lead crystal and some imported pottery.

Children are considered to be at the greatest risk of exposure because
they have such intimate contact with the environment. Their faster metabolism
causes them to eat more for their body weight and to breathe faster.

Children also tend to play and breathe closer to the ground where lead
dust concentrates. They are also likely to put their hands in their mouths,
which can bring lead just directly into their bodies.

Parents can take several steps to help protect their children from the
effects of lead within the home environment. Cover peeling or exposed paint
with wood panelling or vinyl wallpaper. Stripping off the paint will release
more lead into the environment, and a new coat of paint can itself peel,
re-exposing the paint beneath it.

Also, lead and lead salts are toxic to pets. Pets are naturally curious
and are prone to claw, scratch and pick at peeling materials. To minimise the
risk to your pet, watch what they pick up in their mouths! These toxic lead
salts can be found in such common things as insecticides and linoleum.

Be careful when doing any kind of remodelling such as removing old
paint, replacing linoleum on floors, counters, etc. Keep pets and children
away from work sites and building materials. Properly dispose of any leaded
materials and remove them promptly from the premises.

Know the possible signs of lead poisoning, vomiting, diarrhoea,
abdominal pain, lack of appetite, irritability, listlessness, hysteria or
convulsions. When a pet shows gastrointestinal as well as neurological
symptoms, lead poisoning could be the culprit and you should contact the vet
as soon as possible.

Many water mains are still made of lead, so household water should be
tested for lead content. If lead is present in the water, allow it to run for
a few minutes before using it. Use cold or bottled water to prepare foods or
infant's formula because hot water tends to leech more lead. Iron deficiency
anaemia is a common problem among one and two year olds that predisposes them
to eating non food substances and causes them to absorb more of the lead
taken into their bodies.

If lead exposure is suspected, consult your health department about
appropriate removal and clean-up procedures. Also, people who may have been
exposed to lead or lead dust recently should have the lead levels in their
blood tested by their doctor or local health department.

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