Lead is a heavy metal that has been used in manufacturing, paint, and other products for many years. It can also be found in certain home remedies, imported pottery, candy, spices and cosmetics. Lead serves no useful purpose in the body and it can cause serious and permanent health problems.Lead enters the body by being inhaled or ingested. Lead can be inhaled when lead dust, mist, or fumes (“smoke”) are in the air.
Lead is highly toxic to humans. Lead affects many important body systems. Lead damages the brain, nerves, red blood cells, kidneys, and reproductive systems. Lead can also cause high blood pressure, miscarriage, and other health problems. Lead easily crosses the placenta in a pregnant woman and can harm the fetus. Lead is even more dangerous for children under the age of six. Children who are exposed to lead may have problems learning and paying attention. Damage from lead exposure can be permanent.
The signs and symptoms of lead poisoning are often vague and can easily be confused with symptoms of other conditions. Some people are poisoned by lead yet have few or no obvious symptoms.
The only way to know if there is lead in your body is to have a blood lead test. Children should be tested at 1 and 2 years of age. The main treatment for lead poisoning is to remove the person from lead exposure to allow the body to clear the lead.