Lead is a chemical that has useful applications in construction and medicine. However, lead is toxic and requires special handling, or it may harm people, especially children.
A person’s reaction to lead exposure may depend on the levels, exposure type and length. Over the years, efforts in New Jersey have worked to reduce the amount of lead in the water and environment; however, that work continues. Understanding the effect lead has on the body may help spot the signs that exposure has occurred.
Lead exposure types
Factories and construction sites offer the highest chance of on-the-job exposure to lead. A person may inhale air made toxic with lead or ingest it. Water contaminated by lead is a top conduit for the chemical to enter the body. Old paint is another way children especially may become exposed.
Reactions to lead exposure
When a person comes in contact with lead, it may produce immediate reactions depending on the amount. This type of exposure typically happens in environments where lead may exist. It is more likely that a person will become exposed over time. Some of the signs and symptoms of lead exposure include:
- Unexplained fatigue
- Weakness and pain in the feet and hands
- Memory issues
Long term effects of lead on the body
Lead often settles in the bones. When this happens, it may infect the blood cells in the marrow and cause osteoporosis and cancer. Children especially may wind up with leukemia due to lead exposure. Lead also depletes iron in the blood, so anemia is another condition that may result from toxic levels of the chemical.
The body processes environmental hazards, but too many chemicals act to alter it. Lead exposure is a critical condition that may require long-term treatment.