Facts You Should Know About Lead For the Safety of Your Family
According to studies supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), lead poisoning has been associated to lower IQ scores in children, even to those exposed to low levels of lead. Young children under the age of six are particularly vulnerable due to the fact that their body and brain are still developing. Two year-olds tend to have the highest blood level concentration given that they put many things into their mouth such as toys and products that could be lead contaminated as a result of the environment, such as chips of deteriorating lead-based paint, lead contaminated dust, lead contaminated soil, drinking water, lead crystal, lead-glazed pottery, and some metal jewelry.
Adverse health effects of lead poisoning in children are well-documented and may have long-lasting or permanent consequences. Impairment includes neurological damage, delayed mental and physical development, attention and learning deficiencies as well as hearing problems. Since lead stays and accumulates in the body, even exposures to small amounts of lead can contribute to the high overall lead levels in the blood and lead to subsequent risk of adverse health effects. It is therefore important that children be kept away from exposure to lead.
Every year, industry produces about 2.5 million tons of lead throughout the world. Most of this lead is used for batteries. The remainder is used for cable coverings, plumbing, ammunition, and fuel additives. Other uses are as paint pigments and in PVC plastics, x-ray shielding, crystal glass production, and pesticide.
Lead-based paints before banned in 1978, were commonly used on the interiors and exteriors of homes in the USA, leading to chronic exposure from weathering, flaking, chalking, and dust. Lead is a soft, highly toxic metal being used in many applications. It occurs naturally in the earth, but is spread through the environment by human activities and industrial use. Deteriorated and exposed lead paint in the form of paint chips and lead-contaminated house dust in older housing remain one of the most common sources of lead exposure for young children in the United States. Toys with lead-based paint are less common sources, as well as certain candies imported from Mexico. Lead has been found in some consumer candies imported from Mexico according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in June 2009. Certain candy ingredients such as chili powder and tamarind may be a source of lead exposure. Lead sometimes gets into the candy when processes such as drying, storing, and grinding the ingredients are done improperly. Also, lead has been found in the wrappers of some imported candies. The ink of these plastic or paper wrappers may contain lead that leaches into the candy. You can tell for sure only by having the candy tested in a laboratory. If you have reason to suspect that you may have consumed lead in candy, see a healthcare provider for a blood test.
Other sources of lead pollution besides leaded house paint are; petrol exhaust, coal burning, dust and dirt, drinking water from lead pipes, some canned foods, vegetables grown by roadsides and milk from cows grazed on polluted pastures.
In adults lead can cause fertility problems, nerve disorders, muscle and joint pain, irritability, memory or concentration difficulties and increase blood pressure although it takes a significantly greater level of exposure to lead than it does for kids to sustain adverse health effects. Adults who are lead poisoned may have been exposed to lead at work. Individuals particularly at risk for lead exposure are found in occupations related to welding, renovation and remodeling activities, smelters, firing ranges, the manufacture and disposal of car batteries, and the maintenance and repair of bridges and water towers.
The FDA advises that parents, care providers, and others not allow children or pregnant women to eat candy imported from Mexico at this time. More information and advisories on lead in candy can be obtained from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)) 1-888-463-6332.
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