side effects of lead pipe exposure

Side Effects of Lead Pipe Exposure

There is a long list of lead exposure symptoms for children and adults. While there is some overlap of those two lists, lead can have a dramatically different long-term impact on children. Everyone should avoid lead poisoning, but parents should be especially vigilant against lead exposure for their children.

These days the most common lead exposure risk comes from piping. There is still some lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in older buildings, but many of those risks have been mitigated over the past few decades by federal and state regulations. Far less progress has been made on lead pipes in older homes and in our nation’s water systems.

Millions of families still face lead dangers from the water lines that feed their homes and the pipes behind their walls.

Lead Exposure Symptoms in Children and Adults  

Both adults and children may experience abdominal pain and changes in mood from ingesting toxic quantities of lead. While there is no safe level of lead ingestions, prolonged exposure, such as drinking, bathing and cooking food with lead contaminated water for months or years, can result in irritability, mood disorders and stomach pains in adults and children.

Both adults and children can also experience memory problems or have difficulty concentrating. How those symptoms manifest and the long-term effects can be different. Adults may have trouble at work, and kids can have trouble at school. The ramification for both may be disciplinary actions, or an adult can potentially lose their job.

Any condition that disrupts a child’s education or their developmental progress can have far reaching consequences adults may not have to deal with. Severe lead poisoning and the long-lasting effects of toxic lead ingestion can alter the course of a child’s entire life.

These symptoms are serious for adults and children, but parents who suspect lead contamination in their home should be especially vigilant. If you suspect your child may have lead poisoning, you should see your pediatrician right away. Doctors can perform blood tests to determine whether lead exposure could potentially be at the root of your family’s health issues.

Symptoms of Lead Exposure in Children

There are both physical and psychological symptoms of lead exposure for children. Physical symptoms include things like:

  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hearing loss
  • Sluggishness and fatigue
  • Seizures
  • Loss of appetite

The psychological and emotional symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Learning difficulties
  • Development delays
  • Pica (the urge to eat things that aren’t food, like paint chips)

The consequences of lead poisoning can have exponentially negative effects. Hearing loss of any kind is frequently linked to developmental delays, and may prevent children from:

  • Developing speech and language skills
  • Achieving academically
  • Communicating their difficulties
  • Socializing

When combined with the other irritability, learning difficulties and development delays that may result from lead poisoning, hearing problems can be a significant detriment to a child’s future.

Symptoms of Lead Exposure in Adults

Adults don’t display the same type of developmental symptoms, but they can exhibit memory and concentration difficulties, which can make productivity difficult. Additional symptoms, such as headaches and joint and muscle pain, can also interfere with an adult’s ability to remain gainfully employed.

Other potential symptoms, such as high blood pressure and an increased risk for seizures, can also increase a person’s risk for catastrophic health problems.

Reproductive Consequences of Lead Exposure

Lead poisoning can affect the reproductive systems of both men and women. For example, men who are exposed to or ingest dangerous levels of lead may have a reduced sperm count.

Pregnant women and fetuses have the potential to suffer the worst reproductive lead poisoning symptoms. Lead poisoning has been linked to:

  • Premature birth
  • Miscarriages and stillbirths
  • Reduced birth weights
  • Delayed growth after birth

How Can Your Family Be Exposed to Lead?

Lead can potentially be found in soil, indoor dust, pottery, toys, poorly regulated cosmetics, folk remedies, Mexican candies containing Tamarind and lead bullets. Certain professions, such as mining, auto mechanics, pipe fitters, painters and people who work in battery manufacturing may be exposed to dangerous levels of lead while working.

Most of the potential lead exposure risks are related to now-outlawed lead sources that may still be present in the environment. For example, leaded gasoline or lead paint that is spilled or mixed into soil over time can contaminate the soil. Lead contaminated soil is a real risk around highways and in some urban areas.

Some glazes from China may still contain lead, which can potentially be leached into food held in pottery or porcelain. People who spend a lot of time at firing ranges may suffer the effects of lead poisoning from extended exposure to lead in bullets.

Maybe the most pervasive lead source that hasn’t been adequately addressed even today are lead pipes in homes and municipal water systems. Washington, D.C. is no exception. Thousands of homes in the DMV still have lead piping.

Vito Services is proud to partner with the Lead Pipe Replacement Assistance Program (LPRAP) to help remedy the risk of lead poisoning in homes. Households that still have lead pipes will likely qualify for significant financial assistance to get their lead pipes replaced with safe pipes that don’t pose a long-term risk.

Visit our website to learn more about the LPRAP or call us at 800-438-8486 to get a home pipe assessment performed for free.

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