Lead is a heavy metal that is known to cause toxicity over a period of time. It is used and found in various materials around us and can turn toxic when inhaled or ingested. Generally, children below the age of 6 years are at a greater risk of developing lead poisoning, as they are more prone to ingest lead from the environment.
How Can You Avoid Lead Poisoning?
Lead poisoning can be avoided by preventing contact with lead contaminated items and materials. If contact with lead based products cannot be avoided then measures should be taken to minimize the contact and avoidance of ingestion or inhalation, especially avoidance of their contact with children.
-Houses should be checked, especially the ones made before 1978 and proper measures should be taken in their renovation to avoid exposure to lead poisoning. Children should be kept away from soil, dirt, chipping and peeling paint, so that they do not inhale or ingest them. House should be cleaned regularly to avoid settling of dust, so as to avoid inhalation.
-Filters should be used for drinking water and avoiding hot tap water, as it absorbs lead more quickly and causes lead poisoning than cold water. Lead containing plumbing fixtures should be replaced to avoid lead poisoning.
-In the kitchen precaution should be taken when storing foods and liquids. They should not be stored in lead containing utensils and should be stored in food grade plastics or stainless steel containers.
-Folk remedies that contain lead should be avoided and also products and cosmetics that contain lead should be avoided to prevent lead poisoning.
-Good hygiene should be encouraged by washing hands after playing or before eating food. Toys of children should be regularly washed to prevent their contamination from household dust or soil so as to avoid lead poisoning.
-A well balanced diet rich in calcium and iron can be taken, which decrease absorption of lead.
-After working with lead based products, the contaminated clothes and shoes should be kept and washed separately and one should take a shower after coming in contact with lead based products. Materials that are used for hobbies should be kept separately away from the reach of children.
What Are Some Of The Sources Of Lead?
There are various sources of lead from where one can be exposed and develop lead poisoning. These include:
Soil and Dust: Lead is naturally found in Earth’s crust and is found in abundance in some areas. Soil in yards and playground can be contaminated with gasoline, from contaminated sites such as lead smelters and also from industrial sources. Lead from lead-based paints from buildings can settle in soil and can be inhaled or ingested, especially by children. Dust from outside soil or indoor lead based paint is a source of lead poisoning.
Drinking Water: Lead can enter drinking water by corrosion of plumbing materials in places where water is high in acidity. These include lead pipes, fixtures and solders.
Products: Lead is found in many products including painted toys, furniture and toy jewelry. Children are at a greater risk of ingesting lead from these products by biting or swallowing them. Certain cosmetics such as lipstick, traditional vermilion or hair dye contain lead. Foods or liquid stored or served in a lead container can contaminate the food or liquid stored in them. Artificial turfs are also a source of lead.
Old Buildings: Homes built before 1978 are mostly paint with containing lead-based paint. Lead-based paints in United States are now banned due to their health hazards such as lead poisoning.
Folk Remedies: Some traditional remedies such as greta and azarcon used in the treatment of upset stomach may contain lead. Other remedies such as nzu, poto and calabash chalk that are used to treat morning sickness also contain lead. These can lead to serious and irreversible health implications.
Jobs and Hobbies: Jobs or hobbies handling lead based products such as lead-paint, smelting, mining, battery recycling, dealing with old furniture, making pottery (dyes and glazes), hunting (shots and bullets) and fishing (sinkers and jigs).
Prenatal Exposure: Lead can also cross placenta, so a newborn can have lead poisoning if mother is exposed to lead. This can cause developmental disorders in the newborn.