22 Oct What are the Effects of Lead Exposure?
If your Magic Valley home was built after 1986, lead in your drinking water is not likely to be a concern. Nonetheless, recognizing the signs of lead exposure is an important part of keeping your family healthy and safe.
Is There a Such Thing as a Safe Level of Lead?
Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA is responsible for establishing guidelines about contaminants in drinking water. These guidelines are based upon the potential health risks involved from exposure to certain contaminants. While certain levels of exposure are acceptable with some contaminants, this is not the case with lead. As such, the EPA has set its maximum contaminant level goals (MCLGs) for lead at zero.
As an added element of danger, lead can bioaccumulate in the body over time. Therefore, being exposed to small amounts of lead over a period of time can ultimately lead to severe lead poisoning. Furthermore, lead poisoning is more dangerous in children because a dose that would have little effect on an adult can have a significant effect on a child.
What are the Effects of Lead Poisoning?
Lead poisoning is a danger for people of all ages, but particularly in children. Some of the side effects associated with lead exposure in children include:
- Behavior problems
- Damage to the central and peripheral nervous system
- Impaired hearing
- Learning disabilities
- Lower IQ
- Slowed growth
In rare cases, it can even cause seizers, coma and death. For this reason, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends public health actions occur when the lead level reaches 5 micrograms per deciliter in a child’s blood.
Lead exposure can also cause problems for pregnant women, with the lead crossing the placental barrier and exposing the fetus to lead. This can result in reduced growth of the fetus and premature birth. Lead can also be transferred through breast milk.