Lead in People
How do children get lead poisoning?
Inhaling or swallowing microscopic amounts of lead dust. This is more common than the stereotype of a child eating a highly toxic paint chip. Lead dust can come from deteriorating lead paint or lead-contaminated soil.
How can I tell if my child has lead poisoning?
A blood test is the only way to know. Children are most vulnerable in the womb and through age 6 because their developing bodies absorb lead easier and are more susceptible to damage. State health officials recommend annual tests through age 3 because that is when lead levels generally peak. Any child 4 through 6 who hasn't been checked should be. Also, high-risk children 4 through 6 should be tested annually. Annual tests are necessary because lead poisoning can occur at any time.
What children are considered at high risk?
Children who live or spend a lot of time in homes built before 1950; children in pre-1978 homes that are being renovated or repainted; children who have a friend or sibling with lead poisoning; children whose yards are highly contaminated. Minority children are disproportionately affected.
What can lead poisoning do to my child?
Prenatal exposure can lead to premature birth or smaller babies. Lead can damage the nervous system, interfere with growth, lessen intelligence, harm hearing, affect behavior, possibly making the child more excitable and less able to concentrate. In extreme cases, it can lead to coma and death.
How about adults?
Lead can cause reproductive problems in men and women; high blood pressure, kidney and digestive problems, nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems, muscle or joint pain.