Too much lead in the body can seriously injure the brain, nervous system, red blood cells, and the kidneys. Higher levels of lead in the body can cause mental retardation, fits (convulsions), falling out (unconsciousness, coma), and even death. In years past, that kind of effect was called lead poisoning. Exposures high enough to cause coma and death are very uncommon today, but they haven't disappeared.
Low levels of lead in the body when a child's brain is developing can slow the child's development and cause learning and behavior problems.Lead-exposed children may not be as quick at their studies or as good at hitting a baseball or dribbling a basketball as children without the lead exposures.
Though lead paint stopped being used on most houses in the mid-1970s, many older homes still have surfaces once painted with lead paint. Young children eat, chew, and suck on lead-painted surfaces they can reach, like window sills and railings. The little ones will put jewelry and printed matter that may have lead in their mouths.
Dirt and dust sometimes have lead in them, as do the fumes and dust stirred up during home renovation and while sandblasting lead-painted buildings and bridges.
Older homes and especially deteriorating and poorly kept older homes can be a threat for children. Particular jobs, like welding, radiator repair, making lead batteries, and demolition work can be especially hazardous to workers.Lead accumulates in our environment. As we keep using more lead, there will be more lead in the environment.
Lead accumulates in our bodies, and especially in children's bodies. Exposure to small amounts of lead over time can mean a long-term accumulation of lead in a child, raising the child's risk of bad health effects.
Pregnant women who have lead stored in their bones may release some of that bone lead into their K blood, where it can reach the womb and fetus during pregnancy. That kind of transfer potential makes us think about lead exposures in today's children and what that may mean for their children.