Why is milk used as an antidote for lead poisoning?


Quick Answer

While milk is not considered an antidote for lead poisoning, it may prevent lead poisoning because its high calcium content reduces the amount of lead that the body absorbs, according to the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services. Foods rich in vitamin C and iron also reduce lead absorption.

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Full Answer

Lead poisoning occurs when lead accumulates in the body over time. It is especially concerning in children under age 6 because it can cause problems with mental and physical development, according to Mayo Clinic. Children are most commonly exposed to lead through paint and dust that is contaminated with lead. Lead sometimes contaminates air, water and soil as well. Adults are generally exposed to lead while working with batteries, performing home renovations or working in auto repair shops.

Several simple steps help prevent lead poisoning, including cleaning dusty surfaces, and regularly washing children's hands and toys, according to Mayo Clinic. Older plumbing sometimes contains lead pipes or lead fittings, so people who live in older homes should run their cold water for at least one minute before using it, and avoid using hot water for cooking or preparing baby bottles. Treatment for mild cases of lead poisoning includes avoiding further exposure, while more severe cases may require special medications.

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