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Lead Poisoning: Prevention and Treatment

Lead Poisoning: Prevention and Treatment

Lead poisoning, as the name suggests, is a medical disorder linked to the excess levels of lead (the metal) found in the human body. This article takes a closer look at the prevention and treatment of this condition.
Sayali Bedekar Patil
Last Updated: Mar 17, 2018
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Some children have a habit of chewing on the leads of their pencils. This leads to increased concentration of lead in their bodies. A normal person should ideally have less than 10 micro-grams of lead per deciliter of blood in their body. Lead poisoning is a dangerous ailment. It can lead to anything, ranging from severe neurological damage to permanent or temporary reduction in the cognitive abilities of the human brain. While mild poisoning can lead to either lethargy or hyperactivity, extreme cases can end in seizures or even death. Gastrointestinal side effects and reproductive problems can be considered the other effects of this disorder of grave outcomes.

Prevention

Preventing this disease from occurring can be very easy if the following simple steps are religiously followed:
  • Prevent exposure to lead-based household products and paints.
  • Avoid inhalation of lead fumes by using proper respiratory equipment when visiting industrial areas or mines.
  • Get drinking water checked periodically for lead and other poisonous metals that can be an outcome of corroded brass pipelines.
  • Let the initial water run for a while before using it, as it has a higher probability of containing lead. Hot tap water is more likely to have higher lead levels, so cooking with it should be avoided.
  • Avoid usage of artificial metal jewelry. Some forms of kohl and surma also contain traces of lead.
  • Minimize the dust through regular wet mopping as well as vacuum cleaning using HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) vacuum cleaners.
  • Reduce the number of dust collecting equipment, plants, books, or soft-toys in your home.
  • Wash the sheets, rugs, and mattresses regularly.
  • Get a professional to check the house regularly for lead levels. It is essential to talk to the landlord to make rented houses lead-free.
  • When remodeling the house, it is important to use protective gear, especially when pulling down old paint.
  • Avoid canned foods, food from unreliable sources, etc., and make sure that your hands are washed before eating.
  • It is best to avoid home/folk remedies, and also to check the ingredients of nutritional pills before consumption.
Treatment

If prevention has failed and one needs treatment, it can be treated in the following ways:

Through the Use of Chelating Agents: Chelation therapy uses agents like DMSA (Dimercaptosuccinic acid - HO2CCH(SH)CH(SH)CO2H) and DMPS (2,3-Dimercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid) to remove excess lead from the bloodstream. There is also the ALA (Alpha-lipoic acid) agent that succeeds in the same.

EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) Chemical Compound Therapy: This therapy prevents the excess metal from reacting and forming dangerous compounds inside the body. This therapy effectively lessens the effects of poisoning caused due to lead.

Dimercaprol (INN) or British anti-Lewisite (BAL): This compound in itself, is toxic, and treats toxic poisonings like those of arsenic and lead. This treatment is done through an injection of chemical detoxicants in some muscular body part. This is often very painful.

It is said that it is easier and better to prevent something than to cure it, both cost-wise as well as effort-wise. Lead poisoning, and indeed all the other compound poisonings in general, leave back some lasting effects on human health long after they have been treated. These can only be avoided if the simple steps of prevention are followed. So, I conclude by wishing you a healthy and happy prevention.

Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.