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