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Lead Poisoning

Also called: Plumbism

Summary

Lead is a metal that occurs naturally in the earth's crust. Lead can be found in all parts of our environment. Much of it comes from human activities such as mining and manufacturing. Lead used to be in paint; older houses may still have lead paint. You could be exposed to lead by

  • Eating food or drinking water that contains lead. Water pipes in older homes may contain lead.
  • Working in a job where lead is used
  • Using lead in a hobby, such as making stained glass or lead-glazed pottery
  • Using folk remedies such as herbs or foods that contain lead

Breathing air, drinking water, eating food, or swallowing or touching dirt that contains lead can cause many health problems. Lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body. In adults, lead can increase blood pressure and cause infertility, nerve disorders, and muscle and joint pain. It can also make you irritable and affect your ability to concentrate and remember.

Lead is especially dangerous for children. A child who swallows large amounts of lead may develop anemia, severe stomachache, muscle weakness, and brain damage. Even at low levels, lead can affect a child's mental and physical growth.

Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry

Start Here

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Environmental Protection Agency)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • (National Safety Council) - PDF
  • (Environmental Protection Agency)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Also in

Latest News

Diagnosis and Tests

  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in
  • (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)

Prevention and Risk Factors

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Environmental Protection Agency) - PDF
  • (Environmental Protection Agency) - PDF

Related Issues

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in

Specifics

  • (Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water)
  • (Food and Drug Administration)
  • (Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards)

Videos and Tutorials

  • Interactive Tutorial (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Maryland Public Television)

Statistics and Research

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) - Create maps showing locations of toxic chemical releases

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Find an Expert

  • Also in
  • Also in
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • From the National Institutes of Health Also in

Children

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences)
  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in

Women

  • (March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation)

Patient Handouts

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