Monday, May 13, 2019

Lead Poisoning and Its Effects on Child Development

When a person absorbs too much lead, either through the skin or by breathing, eating, or drinking, serious damage can occur. This is especially true when it comes to infants and younger children, who are more sensitive to lead than teens or adults. Here's a look at how children are exposed to lead and how it affects their development.

Sources of Lead 
A child drawing in a classroom

Luckily, since lead-based paint is no longer a major problem in Americans' daily lives since being banned for use in housing since 1978, lead poisoning is much less common than it was in the past. However, there are still several potential sources of lead that pose a threat to everyone, especially children. Lead can still be found in older homes and communities in household dust, contaminated soil, and in water that flows from lead-based pipes. Toys, jewelry, sporting equipment, and other household items like blinds and dishes can also sometimes contain lead, especially if these items are older or have been imported from countries without strict regulations.

Is There Any Safe Level of Lead?

While teens and adults can generally handle small amounts of lead exposure, there is no safe level of lead exposure for children. According to studies found in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, lasting cognition problems resulting from lead poisoning can occur in children with as little as five micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. Home lead inspections can help to prevent lead exposure in children, and seeking medical attention for the slightest symptoms of lead poisoning is critical.

Signs of Lead Poisoning in Children

Lead poisoning is especially insidious because it's often asymptomatic, even at high levels. If symptoms are present, they most commonly include headaches, stomach pain, loss of appetite, and constipation. If lead poisoning has affected a child's central nervous system, he or she may become disoriented, clumsy, agitated, or excessively lethargic. Any signs of lead poisoning should always be treated as an emergency.

Damaging Effects of Lead in Children

Lead poisoning harms the body's ability to produce vital blood cells and to absorb calcium, both of which are necessary for muscle function, strong bones and teeth, and healthy nerves and blood vessels. Lead can also affect the basic functions of the nervous system. When a child is still developing, especially in the time between birth and age two, lead exposure can severely impact brain development, permanently altering its volume and microstructure.

ASAP Environmental, Inc. has been a leader in Boston-area lead and mold inspection for over 25 years. For more information or to schedule an inspection, please contact us online or call 800-349-7779 today.