Lead Poisoning - Treatment

Lead Poisoning Treatment 2551
Photo by: Nathan Allred

The first step in treating lead poisoning is to avoid further contact with lead. For adults, this usually means making changes at work or in hobbies. For children, it means finding and removing sources of lead in the home. In most states, the public health department can help inspect the home and find sources of lead.

If the problem is lead paint, a professional with special training should remove it. Home owners should not try to do this job themselves. Scraping or sanding lead paint creates large amounts of dust that can poison people in the home. The dust can stay around long after the work is completed. People living in the home should leave until the cleanup has been finished by the professional.

Chelation Therapy

If blood levels of lead are high, the doctor may also prescribe chelation (pronounced kee-LAY-shun) therapy. The word "chelation" comes from the Greek word for "claw." Chemicals used in chelation therapy take hold of lead in the bloodstream, like a crab grabs an object with its claw. The lead can then be washed out of the blood.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three chemicals for use in chelation therapy. Edetate calcium disodium (EDTA calcium) and dimercaprol (BAL; pronounced die-muhr-KAP-rol) are usually injected with a shot. Or they can be added directly to the bloodstream with an intravenous (into the vein) line. Succimer (trade name Chemet) can be taken in pill form.

Alternative Treatment

No forms of alternative treatment have proved effective in treating lead poisoning. Increasing the amount of calcium, zinc, iron, and protein in the

Lead based paints are the most common source of exposure to lead among preschool children. (Photograph by Robert J. Huffman, Field Mark Publications. Reproduced by permission.)
Lead based paints are the most common source of exposure to lead among preschool children. (Photograph by
Robert J. Huffman, Field Mark Publications
. Reproduced by permission.)

diet may be of some help. They tend to reduce the amount of lead taken into the bloodstream. Some practitioners believe that nutritional, herbal, and homeopathic medicines can help the body recover from lead poisoning after the source of lead has been found and eliminated.

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