Limit Your Exposure to Lead

Monday, June 9, 2008

Lead, also known as Pb on the periodic table or plumbum in Latin, has been widely used for about 7000 years because of its weight and soft properties. Only recently have studies shown its negative effects on human health, including damage to the central nervous system, stunted growth, and decreased IQ in children. Lead is on its way to getting completely phased out. It has already been taken out of food, paint, and gasoline in most of the developed world. Here are some guidelines that you can follow to help to lessen your overall exposure to lead.

Get your blood tested. Ideally, your level would be zero, but normal levels are less than 10 micrograms/decileter. If your level is any higher, then you will be perscribed medicine, usually EDTA, to make you excrete the lead.
Be well nourished with necessary metals, such as iron and zinc. Don't have too much of them, or that could poison you too. Having those metals in your body can help stop lead from entering.
Make sure nothing in your life includes lead. Have your tap water, products, and paint in your house tested for lead. Some things that may have lead in them are...
bottom layers of paint in houses in US built before 1979. Since the paint will only be on the bottom layers, you will generally be fine as long as it's not peeling.
candy from developing countries.
Hand-painted things from developing countries.
bullets. Make sure to use copper/brass coated bullets (most are) to eliminate airborne lead when shooting, but still wash your hands when you are done.
tap water. Drink your water from a filter in your refridgerator or a container.
car batteries. You generally do not touch these, but if you repair or manufacture them, you're in trouble.

Your body can get lead from inhaling it, inhaling its dust, eating it, or absorbing it through the skin. However, it should be noted that about 50 percent of lead inhaled is absorbed, 10 to 20 percent of lead ingested is absorbed, and less than 1 percent of lead touched is absorbed in adults. For children, those percentages are significantly higher.
Today's pencils do not contain lead. The writing substance is made from graphite, which is not potentially hazardous to your health as is lead. People call it that because Romans used to write with lead rods.

Symptoms of lead poisoning include irritability, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, headaches, difficulty concentrating, constipation and abdominal pain. If you notice more than two of those symptoms, call a doctor.
Be extra careful when traveling to poor countries.


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