Lead Poisoning

I went to a yoga/life coaching seminar today. I’ve always wanted to see if I would be a good therapy patient. I came up with this very decisive answer — maybe. I have things I’d like someone to work through with me, and I think I’m starting to bore my husband and friends. (My closest friends will read this and think, “No.” That’s why they are my closest friends. My husband will read this and think, “Maybe I need to pour more wine.” That’s why we are still married.) On the other hand, I have anxiety about opening up. My fear of going to therapy is like my fear of cocaine. I worry that if I try it once, I may never be able to stop. Sorry friends, looks like you are still on the hook. Anyway, to get back to today’s topic, I have a point. Walking home after the seminar, I was trying very hard to do what I was taught, and not worry about what others were doing. Then, this salty looking lady, ripping a butt, in a green minivan blew a stop sign and almost took me out. (At least I wouldn’t need therapy.) I looked at her and she yelled at me. All plans to be less concerned about the behavior of others went right out the window. Seriously, this broad must’ve eaten a lot of paint chips as a kid.

Lead Poisoning

1. Lead poisoning – Lead is a heavy metal and poisoning occurs when too much of  it is either inhaled or ingested. This leads to tissue and organ damage and can have tragic consequences.

2. Children under 6 are at the greatest risk for lead poisoning, because they aren’t that smart. Most adults will not chew on paint chips, or if they do, will at least check the ingredients first. Paint with lead was banned for use on walls, toys and furniture in 1978. Older homes and apartments may still have lead-based paint. While, eating paint chips is the number one cause of lead poisoning in children, there are other sources. Certain plumbing fixtures can leak lead into tap water. In homes with lead paint on the walls, dust can can be a danger. Some glazed pottery and china may contain lead which can leach into food. Toys manufactured in other countries, where restrictions are not as strict, may contain lead as well. An additional source of lead in America is the soil on the side of roads and highways. Leaded gasoline was polluting the soil for years, and will stick around.

3. Symptoms in newborns include retarded growth and learning problems. Children with lead poisoning may display loss of appetite, fatigue, irritability, and learning problems. Abdominal pain, with constipation and vomiting may also be present.  Long term, lead poisoning can cause developmental delays, kidney problems, hearing loss and seizures. In this country and without any evidence of foul play, lead poisoning is strictly a problem in children. If you are concerned about your own lead levels, click here for signs and symptoms in adults.

4. The CDC states that lead poisoning is the single most preventable environmental disease in children. Still, almost a million children have elevated levels of lead in their blood. Even at low levels, lead can cause serious long term neurological problems.

5. Prevention – Washing hands after playing in the dirt is a good idea for lots of reasons. If you have old plumbing, let the cold water run for a minute or so before drinking. Don’t use hot water from the tap for cooking or mixing baby formula. Never remove paint by sanding or heating. It is o.k. to paint over old paint to prevent chipping and ingestion. Also, give your kid some crackers to chomp on.

Remember when you thought you could get lead poisoning from writing on your skin in pencil? What, you still think that? Weren’t you paying attention?

Kids are routinely tested for lead at least once. It is probably overkill as most children are not at risk based on where they live. But, we test 90 year olds for cancer so, what the hell. Better to needle stick lots of kids, and catch the few who may have gone unnoticed before it is too late.

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