Lead Poisoning - Causes

Lead was once widely used in paints, gasoline, water pipes, and other products. Scientists did not realize how dangerous lead was to the human body. Since finding out how harmful lead can be, governments have banned the use of lead in most products. Some sources still pose a problem, however. These include:

  • Lead-based paints. Paints in older homes are still the most common source of exposure to lead among preschool children.
  • Dust and soil. Lead from gasoline fumes and from factory smokestacks eventually settles out of the air and becomes part of the soil. When people handle the soil or eat foods grown in it, they may absorb lead into their bodies.
  • Drinking water. The pipes used in homes built before 1930 were usually made of lead. Drinking water in older homes may therefore contain lead.
  • Jobs and hobbies. Many occupations and leisure-time activities bring people into contact with lead. Such activities include making pottery or stained glass, refinishing furniture, doing home repairs, and using indoor firing ranges for gun practice.
  • Foods and containers. Foods canned in the United States contain no lead, but foods imported from other countries may be shipped in cans that are sealed with lead compounds. Also, certain kinds of glassware and ceramic dishes are made with lead compounds.
  • Folk medicines. Certain types of home remedies that people have used for many years contain lead. These remedies include alarcon, azarcon, bali goli, coral, greta, liga, and pay-loo-ah.

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