Definition of lead poisoning
Lead is a metal that is present in the environment. Exposure to lead can cause elevated levels of lead in the body, which is called lead poisoning or toxicity. There is no official difference between the definition of lead toxicity and lead poisoning. This condition can cause neurological damage and behavioral changes, especially in young children.
Lead poisoning typically happens when people are exposed to lead through eating or drinking. However, excessive lead absorbed through the skin or through breathing can also cause lead poisoning. Lead levels can be easily measured in the blood. A level of 5 mcg/dl is considered high enough to take an active effort to find the source of lead and reduce exposure while a level of 45 mcg/dl requires treatment to remove lead from the body.
Where does lead exposure come from?
Lead exposure can come from a number of sources. Lead may be ingested through lead-based paint, food or drinks. Children are much more likely than adults to experience lead toxicity from lead-based paint because children might eat or suck on colorful peeling chips of paint. Food and water may become contaminated with lead if the water supply becomes contaminated. Recently, many residents of Flint, Michigan developed lead toxicity from contaminated city water.
Lead may also be inhaled through dust particles or may get into the body through chemical exposure in the environment. People who work in industrial jobs with high levels of lead exposure through fumes or through direct skin contact also are at risk of lead toxicity.
Next: Symptoms, Signs Of Lead Poisoning