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Protect Yourself From Lead Poisoning

written by: JenniferB•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 10/20/2008

Lead is a potent neurotoxin that can harm the nervous system and especially affects young children. Lead poisoning can result in palsy, partial paralysis, blindness, mental retardation and even death. Read on to learn how to protect you and your family.

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    The Danger of Lead

    Lead is an element that does not break down in the environment. It is a potent neurotoxin that can harm the nervous system and especially affects young children. Lead poisoning can result in palsy, partial paralysis, blindness, mental retardation and even death. A 1993 study by the US National Academy of Sciences as well as other studies argue that there is no safe level of lead in children’s blood. That means that parents and care givers of young children must go to extensive lengths to prevent children from being exposed to this toxic chemical. So what are some ways that you can protect your family from potential lead poisoning? Keep reading!

    How to Prevent and Control Lead Poisoning

    The prevention of lead poisoning isn’t hard – it just takes a bit of effort on our part and the part of the national government.

    • Leaded Gasoline. Unfortunately, some gasoline still contains lead. It is important that lead is phased out of gasoline. Whenever possible, choose unleaded gasoline for your car.

    • Waste incineration. The incineration of waste is a major contributor of lead pollution.

    • Ban the use of lead solder. Replace lead pipes and plumbing fixtures that do not contain lead solder.

    • Ban the use of lead in computer and television monitors. If an electronic device does contain lead, make sure that it is removed and disposed of properly so that it is not incinerated or placed in a land disposal.

    • Ban lead glazing for ceramic ware that is used to serve foods.

    • Ban candles that contain lead cores.

    • Test infants for potential lead poisoning by age 1.

    • Wash fresh fruits and vegetables as they may contain lead from contamination.

    Thankfully, these measures have led to a dramatic reduction of the threat of lead poisoning among children in the United States. Unfortunately, however, this poisoning is still common in many developing countries where lead products, including gasoline, are still widely used. Experts estimate that hundreds of millions of children around the world are at risk for lead poisoning and that as many as 20 million children already suffer from brain damage. The good news is that many countries, including China, are beginning to phase out lead products including gasoline.

    For more on lead toxicity, visit the Center for Disease Control's Web page to learn more about lead toxicity in children.