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Lead in the human body: how does lead get into the human body and how does it reside there.
By offering simple steps to protect your family from lead poisoning, this document provides advice for reducing the risk of lead poisoning for families living in homes
where lead exposure is suspected, likely, or where lead contamination is actually confirmed by testing.
1 out of every 11 children in the United States has dangerous levels of lead in the bloodstream.
Even children who appear healthy can have dangerous levels of lead.
People can get lead in their body if they:
Put their hands or other objects covered with lead dust in their mouths.
Eat paint chips or soil that contain lead.
Breathe in lead dust (especially during renovations that disturb painted surfaces).
Lead is even more dangerous to children than adults because:
Babies and young children often put their hands and other objects in their mouths. These objects can have lead dust on them.
Children's growing bodies absorb more lead.
Children's brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead.
What are the Effects of Lead Poisoning on the Human Body?
If not detected early, children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from:
Damage to the brain and nervous system
Behavior and learning problems (such as hyperactivity)
Lead is also harmful to adults. Adults can suffer from:
Difficulties during pregnancy
Other reproductive problems (in both men and women)
High blood pressure
Memory and concentration problems
Muscle and joint pain
[The Following Addendum by DJ Friedman inserted 2/6/2006]
What are the Symptoms of Extreme Lead Poisoning?
The NY Times article (cited below) reports on the U.N. placement of a large number of Roma
refugees in camps in the north part of Kosovo and located within 200 yards
of large mounds of industrial waste containing lead smelting byproducts.
100,000 to 130,000 people are believed affected by lead poisoning in this area.
Increased vulnerability to lead poisoning occurs where overall health conditions are poor, such as in these camps.
Tests found that all of the children had high levels of lead and other metals: antimony, arsenic, cadmium, and
manganese. The article reports that a test specialist asserted that this population showed the highest
levels of lead ever measured in human hair samples [Dietrich-Runow in email to the Times].
In what appear [to DF and suggested by the article] to be extreme
cases of lead poisoning, the Times reported the following
symptoms and complaints, focused on symptoms appearing in children, though adults were also severely affected:
Death: up to 31 Roma have been killed by diseases brought on by lead poisoning over a six 1/2 year exposure.
The original U.S. CPSC document that supplied data to the article above is public domain. We have made additions to the technical depth of this article and we have added additional important detail about lead hazards
- these are indicated by a [bracketed note in italics]. The additional text or commentary, website design, links, and references are independent material.
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"The voluntary standard established in the United States under ASTM F-963 and the European standard under EN-71 for soluble lead in toys (lead which may migrate from the toy and be ingested by the child) is 90 parts-per-million. At that level, any intentional use of lead in paints or other surface coatings containing lead would immediately put the toy over the permitted limit."
"Under federal law, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) enforces a standard for total lead of 600 ppm. Recently, the CPSC refused to lower the lead limit in paint and other similar surface coating materials to 100 ppm after finding that most paints sold in the United States were already at or below that level and, therefore, these materials did not present an unreasonable risk of injury warranting further government regulation."
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