Lead poisoning causes irreversible health effects

At very low levels of exposure in children, lead causes reduced IQ and attention span, hyperactivity, impaired growth, reading and learning disabilities, hearing loss, insomnia, and a range of other health, intellectual, and behavioral problems. At low levels, lead poisoning may not present identifiable symptoms, and a blood test is the only way to know if a child is poisoned. At very high levels of exposure, lead poisoning can cause mental retardation, coma, convulsions, and even death.

People can get lead in their body if they:

  • Put their hands or other objects covered with lead dust in their mouths.
  • Eat paint chips or soil that contains lead.
  • Breathe in lead dust (especially during renovations that disturb painted surfaces).

Children are at a higher risk for lead poisoning.

Babies and young children often put their hands and other objects in their mouths. These objects can have lead dust on them. Children’s growing bodies absorb more lead. ¬†Children’s brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead.

If not detected early, children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from:

  • Damage to the brain and nervous system
  • Behavior and learning problems (such as hyperactivity)
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing problems
  • Headaches

National health experts agree that exposure to lead-contaminated dust from deteriorated lead-based paint in older homes is the primary pathway for lead exposure in young children. Lead dust settles quickly, is difficult to clean up, and is invisible to the naked eye. Young children usually are poisoned through normal hand-to-mouth activity, as lead dust settles on their toys and the floor. Children may also be seriously poisoned by eating lead-based paint chips, but this is relatively rare.

Adults can also suffer from lead poisoning which includes:

  • Difficulties during pregnancy
  • Other reproductive problems (in both men and women)
  • High blood pressure
  • Digestive problems
  • Nerve disorders
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Muscle and joint pain