lead still exist
For hundreds of
years we have known that lead is poisonous to
humans. Hippocrates, who lived 400 years before Christ,
recognized and described the signs of lead poisoning among miners. Because lead is present in many things used in everyday life, all of us will have tiny amounts of it in our bodies.
shown that even relatively small amounts of
previously thought to be safe, can have a damaging
effect, especially in babies and young children.
raised levels of lead in the blood can
interfere with intellectual development. Apart from its
effect on children’s intelligence, too much
lead can also cause
disturbed behaviour, headaches, stomach pains, lethargy,
constipation and anaemia.
In severe cases
of lead poisoning paralysis, brain damage, fits, loss of
consciousness and death may occur.
children with too much lead in their blood will
show no, or only the vaguest symptoms. Children get
lead into their bodies through breathing in
fumes containing lead (usually from petrol) and
swallowing things contaminated with minute particles of
lead. Because small children so
often put things in their mouths, the latter source is
used in many industries and the soil, dust and indeed
the whole environment near such activities may contain
increased amounts of lead.
source of lead is paint. Before 1970 many homes
were decorated with lead-based paints.
Many of these
older homes are now being renovated or demolished. Often
the paintwork is peeling - providing an instant source
of lead for young hands. Ways to reduce the
risks of exposure to lead include :
children’s hands and faces before meals and bedtime
discourage children from putting dirty fingers or toys in their mouths
wash toys, dummies (and family pets) often
keep dust to a
homes) Keep children away from peeling paint or chewable
encourage a diet high in calcium
and iron. These slow the absorption of lead
from the intestine
children regular small meals.
Lead is best
absorbed from an empty stomach If you live close to
“lead” industries (mining, smelting, automobile repairs,
batteries and many others) it may be necessary to take
special precautions, particularly if you are pregnant.
If you think that you or your children may have been
exposed to excessive amounts of lead, discuss it with
the doctor. A simple blood test can clarify the matter.