3.Lead Poisoning:Our Environmentalist speaks

Environmentalist at AES Laboratories (P) Ltd shares her views on Lead Toxicity on an interaction with an Old Delhi resident seeking consultancy. Her expertise laid some fine points such as: Lead is a heavy metal that is found naturally in the Earth's crust. It has historically been used in a number of household products. More than 4% of children in the world have lead poisoning. Rates of lead poisoning are higher in large cities and among people with low incomes.

The most common cause of lead poisoning today is old paint with lead in it. Lead has not been used in house paint since 1978. However, many older houses and apartment buildings (especially those built before 1960) have lead-based paint on their walls. Toddlers explore their world by putting things in their mouths. Therefore, young children who live in older buildings are at especially high risk of getting lead poisoning. Children can get lead poisoning by chewing on pieces of peeling paint or by swallowing house dust or soil that contains tiny chips of the leaded paint from these buildings.

There are two ways by which most lead poisoning occurs: ingestion and, to a lesser extent, inhalation. Once in the blood, lead is distributed primarily among blood, soft tissue (such as kidney, bone marrow, liver, and the brain), and mineralizing tissue (such as bone and teeth).  Inhaled lead is completely absorbed by the body. The EPA has concluded that no amount of lead is safe for a child.

Lead poisoning can lead to a variety of health problems in kids, including decreased bone and muscle growth, poor muscle coordination, damage to the nervous system, kidneys, and/or hearing, speech & language problems, developmental delay, seizures and unconsciousness (in cases of extremely high lead levels). When kids do develop symptoms of lead poisoning, they usually appear as irritability or behavioral problems, difficulty concentrating, headaches, loss of appetite, weight loss, sluggishness or fatigue, abdominal pain, vomiting or nausea, constipation, pallor (pale skin) from anemia, metallic taste in mouth, muscle and joint weakness or pain. 

If you live in a house or an apartment built before 1978, ask your doctor about blood lead testing for your child and keep your child away from peeling paint. Peeling paint needs to be removed from all surfaces up to 5 feet above the floor. It is also a good idea to repaint the rooms to seal in the lead paint. Wash your kids' hands and toys frequently, and keep dusty surfaces clean with a wet cloth, ensure that iron and calcium are in your diets, know where your kids play & keep them away from busy roads and the underside of bridges. Avoid using traditional folk medicines and cosmetics that may contain lead















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