How Does Lead Poisoning Affect the Body?


Quick Answer

Lead poisoning can lead to irreversible damage concerning brain development as well as damage to the kidneys and nervous system, as detailed by Mayo Clinic. Seizures, loss of consciousness and death may occur in cases in which people have very high levels of lead in their bodies.

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Full Answer

People generally don't exhibit the symptoms of lead poisoning until the amount of lead in their blood reaches dangerous levels, as Mayo Clinic explains. Loss of appetite, weight loss, abdominal pain, fatigue and hearing loss are signs of lead poisoning in children. Adults with lead poisoning may exhibit high blood pressure, joint pain, tingling in the extremities, headaches and memory loss. People often experience lead exposure from lead-based paint in older homes, lead pipes and pipes soldered with lead. Exposure also takes place from its release during mining, the burning of fossil fuels and certain manufacturing processes.

Children, especially younger children, absorb lead more easily and suffer more harm due to exposure, according to Mayo Clinic. Younger children are at higher risk of exposure from activities such as chewing on paint chips or putting their hands in their mouths. Adults who live in older homes and those who renovate old homes or furniture are also at risk of lead exposure because the ban on lead paint did not occur until the 1970s. People can help protect themselves and their families from lead poisoning by covering lead paint if it can't be removed as well as by washing toys and cleaning any dusty surfaces that may be contaminated by lead.

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