The toxicity of lead can be one of the biggest preventable factors that cause neurological problems and chronic health problems in modern society. Discover how you can protect yourself from this heavy metal and reduce your risk of lead toxicity!
Where does the lead come from?
Lead is a heavy metal found naturally in the earth's crust. However, human mining and manufacturing activities have released unnatural levels of lead in the modern environment.
For adults, the greatest risk of lead toxicity comes from exposure in the workplace. People who work in the following sites or in these industries have a much greater risk of environmental contamination by lead:
Casting and welding Battery manufacturing and recycling Cutting of pipes Certain mining and mineral industries Construction Radiator repairs Glass manufacturing
It is also important to keep in mind that people who work in these industries can also bring lead dust home from their workplace.
Unfortunately, all humans are also exposed to atmospheric lead in the air we breathe. For many decades, leaded gasoline was used throughout the world and contributed to a significant increase in lead in air pollution. While the use of leaded gasoline has been banned in Western countries since 1978, it is still widely used in developing countries today.
The high levels of lead in air pollutants have also contributed to higher levels of lead in our water supply. In addition, older public water supplies can also use lead-based pipes.
Other daily sources of possible exposure to lead include:
Storage cans with welded seams containing lead (banned in 1991 but still used in developing countries) Lead-based paint (although lead paint is currently prohibited, it is still found in old houses) Certain utensils kitchen Soil containing lead from nearby industrial sources Roofing materials Some brands of toys for children who are old or from other countries. Traditional folk medicines, such as greta / azarcon, daw tway and litharge Some cosmetics (especially Kohl) Home renovations (of old lead-based products)
How does lead affect the body?
Despite its widespread prevalence, lead does not have a useful or essential role in our body. Lead is unconditionally toxic to humans and can interfere with our brain, liver and kidney function, even causing permanent damage.
High levels of lead exposure can result in acute toxicity; a rare condition that is usually medically treatable and reversible. In the long term, lower levels of lead exposure are much more common and can lead to chronic toxicity.
Possible Side effects of chronic lead toxicity Include:
Decreased fertility (lower sperm counts in men and increased miscarriages in women) Chronic fatigue Digestive complaints Poor appetite loss Development and learning delay Joint and muscle pain Memory and mood problems Headaches
The main mechanism of damage caused by lead is increased production of reactive oxygen species. This reduces the body's ability to produce antioxidants, which ultimately leads to cell damage in multiple organs.
Lead also has an uncanny ability to infiltrate many tissues and accumulate over time. Once it enters the bloodstream, lead quickly binds to red blood cells and has a half-life of about 30 days in circulation.
After this month in the bloodstream, lead is transported to the kidneys, bone marrow, brain and liver. In these tissues, lead has a half-life of several decades. Some lead can be excreted in the urine and bile, or released back into the bloodstream if the bone turnover is high (such as during menopause or pregnancy).
It is important to keep in mind that children have a particularly higher risk of lead toxicity. Their organs are much more susceptible to the effects of lead and developing young brains are particularly vulnerable. The long-term side effects of lead exposure are more severe at three years of age or less.
Is our risk increasing?
It seems that humans have always been exposed to some levels of lead in the background. This metal rises from the earth's crust and enters the natural environment. The Romans and other ancient civilizations also used lead extensively in pipes, armaments and cooking utensils.
Many studies have been conducted comparing lead levels in pre-industrial bone with modern post-mortem quantities. Despite some difficulties in preserving the precise material at archaeological burial sites, there is convincing evidence to suggest that levels of lead accumulation in bone are much higher for modern man.
Exactly how common is the toxicity of lead today?
While experts do not say exactly that any level of lead is safe, 10 ug / dL have been presented as a "level of concern". Some reports say that up to 9% of children between 1 and 5 years of age exceed this higher level. In certain rural regions of the US UU., This incidence can be as high as 20%. The prevalence of lead toxicity also appears to be higher among lower socioeconomic individuals.
What can we do about it?
The first step to reduce the toxicity of lead is to take reasonable precautions to reduce our exposure. The use of suitable protective materials when working with lead products and the proper disposal of lead-based materials is important. If you live in an old house, your local health department can usually advise you if it is better to seal or remove old lead paint.
In cases of severe lead toxicity when prevention is no longer possible, doctors may recommend chelation therapy to increase urinary lead excretion. In acute or very high levels of lead toxicity, certain medications are also available to reduce lead levels.
From a holistic perspective, it seems that nutrition can play a role in reducing the toxicity of lead. Another important note is that a high-fat diet can increase lead absorption. Some evidence also suggests that malnutrition can increase blood lead levels. In addition, a diet that is deficient in vitamin C, iron and calcium is associated with increased lead uptake.
On the other hand, a diet rich in fiber can protect against the absorption of lead. So a moderate intake of fat and a lot of vitamin C, calcium, iron and fiber could help here!
Drinking pure water seems to be another good idea to reduce the risk of lead toxicity. First, impure water may contain lead from older pipes or contaminated water.
In addition, fluoride can increase the absorption of lead in children and research has shown that 350 schools and day care centers in the US UU They supplied water that exceeded the EPA's action level for lead. So pure water is better for young people, as well as for yourself!
Have you ever experienced the toxicity of lead and what are your opinions about risk reduction? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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