Lead Poisoning

What Is It?

Lead is a metal that is poisonous (toxic) when inhaled or eaten. Lead gets into the bloodstream. It is stored in the organs, tissues, bones and teeth.

With increasing or prolonged exposure, lead can cause:

  • Permanent damage to the central nervous system, especially the brain

  • Delayed development in children

  • Behavioral changes in children

  • Decreased production of red blood cells (anemia)

  • Hearing problems

  • Damage to the reproductive systems of men and women

  • Kidney disease

  • Convulsions (seizures)

  • Coma

The leading source of exposure to lead is lead-based paint. This was outlawed for residential use in 1978. But it remains in some older homes. The main hazard is paint dust. Paint dust enters the air when old paint is scraped, sanded or begins to flake.

People can get lead into their bodies in other ways. These include:

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