Lead poisoning is a kind of chronic (long-term) damage to the nervous system along with other physique organs. It is brought on by inhaling dust containing lead or eating or drinking material contaminated with lead.
Lead poisoning has been a source of human illness and premature death since people first began to use lead in pottery, plumbing, cosmetics, jewelry, metal cookware, and even medicines. The oldest recognized lead mine, opened about 6500 BCE, is located in present-day Turkey. Lead poisoning was first identified around 200 BCE by Nicander of Colophon, a Greek doctor. The metal was well-liked in the ancient world, however, merely because it is easily worked, it has a low melting point, and it does not rust.
The most typical sources of lead poisoning from ancient Rome via the Middle Ages had been drinking vessels produced of pewter, a metal made mostly of tin with little quantities of copper and lead added; and wine, which was frequently sweetened by a compound of lead recognized as lead acetate or sugar of lead. Lead poisoning in humans is frequently slow to develop because of the little quantities of the metal that can trigger health issues.
Lead harms the body by preventing the body from using iron, zinc, and calcium in the production of hemoglobin (a pigment discovered in red blood cells) and in other essential physique processes. In addition, lead is not effortlessly removed from the physique.
It enters the body through the lungs or the digestive tract, it travels first towards the blood together with other internal organs and then is stored in the bones and teeth. Lead in the blood and soft tissues is gradually filtered by the kidneys over a period of sixty to seventy days but might remain in the bones and teeth for several years.
The fundamental trigger of lead poisoning is inhaling, swallowing, or otherwise being exposed to lead in paint, soil, or lead-based products in the environment. Even though lead is no longer utilized in the manufacture of paints, gasoline, together with other products, people can still be exposed to harmful amounts of lead. In the United States, the most common sources of exposure to lead include:
Houses constructed before the 1960s and painted before 1978. House paint was produced with lead until 1978, but many older houses have layers of paint that were applied before lead-free paints had been accessible. Stripping or sanding away older paint could be dangerous, too, simply because the removal process releases fine dust particles containing lead into the air. Kids can breathe in this dust or take in lead by swallowing paint chips or dust from lead-based paint.
Toys and furniture that had been painted before 1976. Plumbing, pipes, and faucets. Storage batteries. Children’s toys produced outside the United States, including paint sets and art supplies. Soil contaminated by lengthy years of car exhaust, such as soil along the sides of highways or close to gas stations. Lead bullets, fishing sinkers, and curtain weights. Homemade illegal whiskey (“moonshine”). Pewter pitchers, goblets, and dinnerware. Lead-based costume jewelry. Hobbies that involve soldering, glazing pottery, making jewelry, or making objects out of stained glass.
Other sources of lead poisoning in some ethnic groups in the United States are folk remedies for numerous ailments. These include the practice of eating soil, certain conventional medicines imported from Southeast Asia, along with a folk remedy known as litargirio, sold in Hispanic grocery shops. The symptoms of lead poisoning usually create gradually over time instead of coming on all of a sudden. In numerous instances the symptoms are not specific to lead poisoning and might be mistaken for the symptoms of other disorders.
In children, whose nervous systems are more vulnerable to lead, symptoms of lead poisoning include irritability, loss of appetite and weight, tiredness, abdominal cramps, vomiting, constipation, a pale complexion simply because of anemia, impulsive behavior, seizures, lowered IQ, and learning difficulties. Symptoms of lead poisoning in adults might include:
Most cases of lead poisoning are detected by screening people at risk instead of because the doctor suspects that the signs and symptoms are brought on by lead. The diagnosis of lead poisoning is based on a blood test known as the blood lead level or BLL. The test could be given to measure the effects of treatment for lead poisoning as well as to screen people for exposure to dangerous amounts of lead. The blood test results are evaluated according to standards set by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Illness Control and Prevention (CDC).
The BLL is measured in micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (mcg/dL). A deciliter is about a fifth of a pint. The definition of what's regarded as a dangerous degree of blood lead has changed more than the years. In 1997 the blood lead level of concern for children was decreased from 25 micrograms per deciliter to 10 micrograms per deciliter.
Not everyone needs to be screened for possible lead poisoning. The CDC recommends screening for adults employed in certain occupations, especially metal working, glass working, lead plating, ore refining, auto repair, road repair, and construction. Kids in the following categories should be screened for possible lead poisoning:
Mild cases of lead poisoning (Classes I through III) can often be treated merely by removing the source of the lead. Children should have their BLL retested a month later to make sure their blood lead level is dropping. Individuals with greater BLLs are generally treated with chelation therapy. This really is a kind of treatment in which the individual is given a drug that binds using the lead in the physique so that it can be excreted in the urine.
Individuals in Class III and some in Class IV are given a drug known as succimer, which is taken by mouth. People with BLLs above 50 mcg/dL are usually treated having a drug known as EDTA, which must be given intravenously. Children who've developed anemia as a outcome of lead poisoning might be given iron supplements.
The prognosis for recovery from lead poisoning depends on the patient’s age and also the level of lead in his or her physique. Adults with low levels of lead frequently recover without issues. Those with greater levels have a greater risk of long-lasting well being issues and should be monitored carefully by their doctor. Their nerves and muscles might no longer function well.Moreover, other physique systems might be harmed to numerous degrees, including the kidneys and blood vessels.
Individuals who survive toxic lead levels may endure some permanent brain damage. Nevertheless, death from lead poisoning is uncommon in the early 2000s because of the widespread use of chelation therapy. Some people also create complications following chelation therapy, as treatment with chelating drugs doesn't usually reverse nerve damage. Depression, increased aggressiveness, impotence, and infertility have been reported in adults.
The National Institute for Environmental Well being Sciences (NIEHS)recommends the following measures to decrease people’s exposure to lead:
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