The Effects Of Lead Poison On Children

Essay, Research Paper

The Effects of Lead Poison on Children

Throughout the world today one out of every six children under the age

of six are suffering from health disorders due to a poisonous metal known as

lead(Kiwanis, 1996). Lead is a natural occurring bluish-grey metal found in the

earth’s crust. It has no taste or smell. Lead can easily be found in all parts

of our environment today. Most of it comes from mining, manufacturing, and last

but not least the burning of fossil fuels(Xintaras, 1993). In the United States

lead poison has increased because of the lack of knowledge in our society.

(Background information on the effect’s lead poison has on children)

Lead is released into the environment by industries, the burning of

fossil fuels or wastes. When lead enters the environment, it starts to become a

problem. After a period of about ten days, depending on the weather, it falls

to the surface. Here lead builds up in the soil particles. Where it may make

its way into underground water or drinking water due to the fact the grounds

acidic or if it’s soft enough. Either way it stays a long time on the soil or

in water. Months or years down the road after the lead has built up it starts

to become a problem for children that play outside of their homes (Xintaras,

1993). These lead containing soil particles get on the child’s hands or

clothing and end up in the child’s mouth. After the build up of so much lead it

leads to a problem commonly known as lead poison. Lead poisoning has been an

issue since the early 1900s, when the use of lead started being banned from the

manufacturing of paint in foreign countries such as Australia(Monheit, 1996).

Unfortunately the United States did not start banding it until 1978, when it

finally became illegal in our nation. Today 90% of the lead in the atmosphere

comes from the burning of gasoline. This problem has been a large issue since

the 1920s, when the EPA(Environmental Protection Agency) started making laws on

the amount of lead allowed in gasoline.

There are many other ways that a child especially under the age of six

can be diagnosed to lead poison besides air pollution. One of the most common

ways of our past is when a child eats or chews on an object that has lead based

paint chips in or on its surface. Parents can easily prevent this from

happening by reading labels or buying objects which are not painted. Another

way in a child can be affected is by drinking water that comes from lead pipes.

Houses built prior to 1978 have been found very unsafe due to the older

pipes(Verstraaten, 1997). These pipes can be easily replaced in most situations.

This process may be expensive but it pays off dearly when it comes to your

family, and never let your child drink from a water fountain or a water hose

that you are not sure is safe(Reducing Lead Hazards When Remodeling Your Home,

1994). The build up of lead in the soils another problem. Bare soil can easily

contain lead from car exhaust, paint peeling, and near by industries pollution.

The easiest way to prevent this is by not letting you child play on bare soil or

cover the soil before letting the child play in the area(Handout IIa: Activities

to Reduce Environmental Exposure, 1997). Breathing workplace air has been a

problem in past also. When parents are not aware of the near by power plants or

industries, which could be letting off lead into the air. It can lead to

problems. So its always best that you know the area really well that you child

is playing in. Another incident that occurred here recently in North Carolina

was a young child was discovered having lead poison after eating some pool-cue

chalk. Researchers here found the cue chalk could actually be a source of

environmental lead(Modica 1996). There

are many effects or symptom that lead poison can have on a child if diagnosed at

an early age. These injuries our so severe because the body and the brain are

not fully developed, which can leave children with subtle but irreversible

injuries that does not appear until many years after the exposure of

lead(Monheit, 1). In young children, lead retards the development of the

central nervous system and brain. Lower levels of lead can reduce their IQ,

reading and learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder and behavior

problems. When these are added up it causes the student to become a dropout

from school and a negative contribution to our communities(Monheit, 1996).

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta

(CDC) have found that these injuries occur when blood levels rise to a mere 10

Micrograms per deciliter of whole blood. Lead poisoning is treatable in the

early stages due to the great amount of investigation that the medical and

environmental fields have put forth, but the damage that the lead does in a

child’s body is not treatable, so once the lead has been damaged, its permanent

(Monheit, 1996). The CDC also asks parents to make sure that their child

receives a blood-lead test at each pediatric checkup at least until the age of

seven. If any of the following symptoms, are obtained by any child consult to

immediate emergency care:

sluggish behavior, apathy


staring periods, tremors, seizures, loss of consciousness

abdomen cramps, loss of appetite, constipation


hyperactive behavior All of the following symptoms are early stages of

lead poisoning and if not treated when possible the symptoms of this poisoning

may lead to a child being put into a coma or even death. (Ways that people

can stay informed on lead poison)

Information on lead poison today is so easy to get access of. One of the

easiest sources of information can be found on the Internet. Many people still

do not yet realize how much information it releases. I found that this subject

had thousands of documents over the Internet that could be easily reached by the

touch of a few keys. Examples of this is: Preventing lead poisoning by the

Kiwanis International, Lead Paint Poisoning of Children by the Law Offices of

Herbert Monheit, and Lead by ToxFAQs. Besides the Internet they’re other tools

that can easily be obtained such as Ebsco Host. This is a program in which one

can find information in periodacles over a computer. It saves a lot of time

because one doesn’t have to go to a library and look through periodicals that

can take hours. Being this was my first time exploring this program I found

many valuable keys of information in it such as: Preventing Childhood Poisoning,

the FDA Consumer, which explains the steps that the FDA are taking in order to

stay informed on lead and lead poisoning. Lead in Homes Subject to Additional

Disclosure by Business Journal of Charlotte magazine. This magazine tells about

the new federal regulations on lead-based paint in 1996. If one doesn’t have

access of either of these programs most libraries have many books and

periodicals that cover this subject.

Other programs that stay informed on this issue can be found governmental

agencies such as the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, located in

Washington D.C.. This Alliance staff offers technical assistance and will help

clubs find local contacts who can offer expert advice for local preventing

program. Materials and requests are also found through the Alliance. Examples

of this is: Guide to State Lead Screening Laws, Resource Guide for Financing,

Lead-Based Paint Cleanup, and copies of fact-filled articles from news papers,

magazines, and other organizations. Another governmental agency which seems to

be on top of this subject is The Environmental Protection Agency. They make

the law and requirements on lead in our environment today. The Lead Institute

of San Francisco offers free pamphlet on lead poisoning and sells testing kits

and books on lead poisoning. Another is the National Lead Information

Center/Hotline located in Washington, D.C. has a variety of brochures and facts

sheets aimed at Parents and explaining the dangers of lead poisoning, the

importance of testing children, and safe home renovations(Kiwanis International,

1996). In Chicago Illinois the Films Incorporated Video is a programs that

obtain video tape and study guides tilted for the awareness of kids in lead

hazard areas. These developed films by Consumers Reports Television and

Connecticut Public Television can be purchased for a small price(Kiwanis

International, 1996). The broadcast media doesn’t play a big role on lead

poisoning unless an incident comes along which turns out to affect a large

number of people or an important individual. If one needs to stay informed on

this information over a sustained period of time, I would direct them to the

Internet, because its filled with so many resources and its always up dating its

information on a daily bases.

(Encouraging Governmental Actions)

The government has many actions to protect human health. One of the

leading agencies in this field is the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA

began in 1970 with the passage of landmark legislation. Much has been

accomplished it those 27 years, but much remains to be done. Due to the

learning and failure of the EPA an extensive study entitled Reinventing

Environmental Regulations took place on March 16, 1995, the study makes several

important points:

Americans are committed to a healthy environment.

Pollution is a sign of economic inefficiency.

Profits can be improved by preventing pollution.

Better decisions result from collaborative processes than adversarial


Regulations allowing flexibility can provide greater protection at lower

cost. (Hankinson,1996) These regulations would probably not of taken place if it

was not up to the regional administrator for Region IV of the United States,

John H. Hankinson Jr. (Hankinson, 1996). Today the EPA limits the amount of

lead that can be in leaded gasoline to 0.1 grams of lead per gallon of

gasoline(0.1g/gal), and unleaded gasoline to 0.05g/gal. The amount lead in the

air is required under 1.5 micrograms per cubic meter average over three month

period, and lead in drinking water to 15 micrograms per liter (Xintaras, 1993).

If help is needed the EPA works with several different agencies such as:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration that can be reached by this Number

(202) 219-8151, the National Conference of State Legislatures at (303) 830-2200,

and the National Lead Information Center Clearinghouse at (800) 424-LEAD.

The Food & Drug Administration(FDA) is one of the oldest protection

agencies in our nation today. The FDA is a public health agency, charged with

protecting American consumers by enforcing the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic

Act and several related public health laws. Today the FDA is located in 157

cities across the country. It investigates and inspects around 95,000 FDA-

regulated businesses(The Food and Drug Administration, 1995). This organization

is taken steps to protect children from lead poisoning by proposing regulations

that will make it harder for small children to gain access to high-potency lead

products. FDA is also helping ensure that health-care providers and consumers

are alerted to the dangers associated with accidental overdoses of lead-

containing products (Hingley, 1996). Today the FDA is headed by the Commissioner

David A. Kessler, M.D.

Government officials face many key arguments or points each day. One

argument that I would encourage governmental official to look at is the amount

of lead allowed in gasoline. Today the burning of leaded gasoline is the number

one pollution dealing with lead. So in my opinion I would suggest that they

reduce the amount of lead in gasoline so that are children and the following

generations do not have to deal with this problem. Another point is what is the

government and their agencies doing in order prevent this pollution from causing

problems in our future. (Supporting non-governmental Organizations)

Besides governmental organization there are organizations that work

throughout different communities that try too help people that are in need. One

example of this is the Program Development Department Kiwanis International.

This organization has a few goals it would like their communities to know about:

1. Awareness of the risk of lead poisoning and particularly the danger

in home renovations.

2. Identification of Children who are at risk of who are already


3. Removal and reduction of the lead hazard in hones, child care

centers, and schools. They ask if there any questions about

any of these goals or anything about preventing lead poison to contact them at:

Program Development Department Kiwanis International 3636 Wooodview Trace

Indianapolis, IN 46268-3196 U.S.A. 317/875-8755, ext.214 800/549-2647 (North

America Only) (Kiwanis International, 1996) (Steps that I can Personally take to

Make a Difference)

Besides governmental and non-governmental organizations there are steps

that we can make in our communities that will help out. One step that I would

personally take is by letting my friends and family know some of the facts on

lead poison such as:

1. Where not to let there children play

2. Toys children should not play with

3. Items that one should not bye due to high amounts of lead

This would help them keep their homes in a condition which would be safer for

there children. These steps may take a little time and money but the outcome

will help ensure a cleaner environment for the next generation.


1. Anon. Preventing Lead Poison. (1996). Kiwanis International.

2. Verstraaten, John. Lead Inspection. (1997). Environmental Concepts

Inc. http://www.gate./~verstraa/lead.htm.

3. Anon. An Overview. (1995). The Food and Drug Administration.

4. Xintaras, Charlie. Lead. (1993). ToxFAQs.

5. Modica, Peter. Pool-cue Chalk Can Cause Lead. (1996). Medical Tribune

News Service.

6. Anon. Reducing Lead Hazards When Remodeling Your Home. (1994).

Environmental Protection Agency.

7. Monheit, Herbert. Lead Paint Poisoning of Children. (1996). Law

Offices of Herbert Monheit.

8. Hankinson, John. Reinventing Environmental Protection:EPA’s View.

South Carolina Business Journal. (1996)



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