Lead is a naturally occurring toxic mineral found in the earth’s crust whose widespread use has resulted in extensive environmental contamination, human exposure and public health problems worldwide. Lead finds it use mainly in the manufacture of lead-acid batteries for motor vehicles while being used in small quantities in other products such as pigments, paints, stained glass, lead crystal glassware, jewelry, toys and even some cosmetics and traditional medicines. Even the drinking water that comes to our houses through lead pipes or pipe joints with lead soldering are not safe to consume.
Effects on Health
Young children are most affected (absorb 4-5 times more than adults) by lead poisoning as it interrupts with the development of the brain and nervous system. Adults are also affected in the long run, with increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage. Pregnant women, when exposed to increased lead levels become victims to stillbirth, miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight and minor malformations as well.
Extreme lead exposure on children affects their brain and nervous system leading to coma, convulsions and even death. Those kids who survive poisoning can be left with mental retardation and behavioral disorders. Even at decreased exposure levels, lead can affect children in different ways: decreased intelligence quotient, reduced attention, increased antisocial behavior and reduced educational performance. Anemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs are other serious side effects of lead exposure. Hypertension is one of the most prevalent diseases in today's world that requires immediate intervention. Read more on hypertension at www.firsteatright.com.
The Ins & Outs of Lead
Governments should take every possible step to protect the health of women, workers and children. Leaded paint is a primary source of exposure in various countries and the goal should be to eliminate leaded paints and prevent its harmful effects. Steps should also be taken to manage chemicals and wastes effectively, in accordance with the health goals, and reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize serious impact on human health and the surrounding environment.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.