How Lead Enters & Effects our Bodies

How Lead Enters the Body
Everyone is exposed to lead, because lead is a naturally-occurring element in our environment.

lead Exposure Picture.jpg
Possible routes of lead exposure include:
  • ingestion of lead-contaminated water, soil, paint chips, or dust;
  • inhalation of lead-containing particles of soil or dust in air; and
  • ingestion of foods that contain lead from soil or water.

Test your Children at 1 and 2 years old for lead levels

Lead Testing Sites in Schuyler County

How Lead Effects the Body

Lead poisoning can be a serious public health threat with no unique signs or symptoms.

Early symptoms of lead exposure may include:
  • persistent fatigue
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • stomach discomfort and/or constipation
  • reduced attention span
  • insomnia

Failure to treat lead poisoning in the early stages can cause long-term or permanent health damage, but because of the general nature of symptoms at early stages, lead poisoning is often not suspected.

In adults, lead poisoning can cause:
  • poor muscle coordination
  • nerve damage to the sense organs and nerves controlling the body
  • increased blood pressure
  • hearing and vision impairment
  • reproductive problems (e.g., decreased sperm count)
  • retarded fetal development even at relatively low exposure levels

In children, lead poisoning can cause:
  • damage to the brain and nervous system
  • behavioral problems
  • anemia
  • liver and kidney damage
  • hearing loss
  • hyperactivity
  • developmental delays
  • in extreme cases, death

Young children (less than seven years old) are most at risk from a combination of the following factors:

  • Children typically have higher intake rates (per unit body weight) for environmental media (such as soil, dust, food, water, air, and paint) than adults, since they are more likely to play in dirt and put their hands and other objects in their mouths;
  • Children tend to absorb a higher fraction of ingested lead from the gastrointestinal tract than adults;
  • Children tend to be more susceptible than adults to the adverse neurological and developmental effects of lead; and
  • Nutritional deficiencies of iron or calcium, which are common in children, may facilitate lead absorption and exacerbate the toxic effects of lead.

The national average blood lead levels in children have dropped over time as our understanding of lead risk has evolved, and as efforts are undertaken to reduce exposure to lead. While banning of lead paint and lead in gasoline were national efforts to stop childhood lead poisoning, contaminated sites require site-specific cleanups to reduce exposure to populations nearby.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has identified that the current blood lead level of concern in children is 10 micrograms (µg) of lead per deciliter (dL) of blood (10 µg/dL); however, adverse effects may occur at lower levels than previously thought. In January of 2012, an advisory panel to the CDC recommended lowering the level that triggers intervention.

Prevent Lead Poisoning with a Heal thy Diet

Eat the following foods to protect your body from the harmful effects of lead
  • Low fat foods
  • Foods high in iron: lean beef and pork, fish, chicken, iron fortified cereals, beans and peas, eggs, dark green vegetables dried fruits (raisins, prunes)
  • Foods high in calcium: milk, yogurt, cheese, green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens)
  • Foods high in vitamin C: oranges, grapefruits, tomatoes, green peppers