According to a WHO study, lead exposure is estimated to account for 1,43,000 deaths per year with the highest burden in developing regions. Young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health effects, particularly affecting the development of the brain and nervous system. Lead exposure is estimated to contribute to 6,00,000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities every year. In growing children, lead poisoning causes low IQ, hyperactivity, attention deficit, learning disabilities and anemia.
Lead poisoning can be hard to detect even people who seem healthy can have high blood levels of lead. At high levels of exposure, lead damages the brain and central nervous system and can lead to coma, convulsions and even death, signs and symptoms of lead poisoning usually don’t appear until dangerous amounts have accumulated. Lead poisoning can be treated if detected at an early stage; taking some simple precautions can help protect yourself and your family.
Major sources of blood lead include leaded contaminated soil, drinking water, petrol emissions, household dust, battery recycling, silver refining, paints (especially yellow), pigments, printing presses, ceramic pottery glazes, cosmetics, colours (including kumkum, sindoor, spices and Holi colours), children’s toys (crayons and painted pencils), plant foods and traditional medicines.
Lead poisoning cases in young children are high because of licking or eating lead-containing paint when it is peeling off the walls or toys. Lead from a mother’s blood can pass to the fetus during pregnancy, possibly giving rise to genetic disorders.
Lead causes long-term harm in adults, including increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage. Adults who work with batteries, do home renovations or work in auto repair shops also may be exposed to lead. It can induce brain, kidney, stomach, heart, hearing, muscle and fertility damage. Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of lead can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight, as well as minor malformations. Women with high blood lead levels develop early osteoporosis, lower backache, joint pain and persistent anemia.
Health issues caused due to Lead Poisoning
- Developmental Delay
- Decline in Cognition and Memory Loss
- Learning Difficulties
- Irritability and Mood Swings
- Weight loss
- Loss of Appetite
- Sluggishness and Fatigue
- Abdominal Pain
- Miscarriage & Preterm Birth
- Vomiting or Constipation
- Muscle Pain
- Loss of Fertility
- Low Sperm Count