Learn from icyou's consulting physician Dr. Mona Khanna about the dangers of lead.
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I think what we’re seeing now is with these toys from China that has been recalled. And with the possible recall with another set of toys and then also the increased attention paid to lead in cosmetics has really made people a little bit more jumpy about the effect of lead in us. You know, really make them understand why lead is dangerous, why is lead even being put into these products and what we can do about it. You know, the normal concentration of lead in the human body is zero. We shouldn’t have any lead in our system. Unfortunately, we got some. We get some in drinking water everyday, we got some in jewelry, potter, makeup. It’s really ubiquitous and it’s used in many cases as a preservative. The reason we’re so worried about lead with children is because children have developing neurological systems. They have developing brains, they have developing spinal cords. And the most dangerous time for lead to be ingested into the system is when a child two or younger. That’s the reason that we’re worried about lead with pregnant women too because they have developing babies that they’re carrying around. So once that lead gets into the bloodstream to a certain level, then it starts affecting the neurological system and that can lead to developmental disabilities including up to mental retardation that can lead to problems with concentration, very much ADHD like problems, but are potentially irreversible because once the lead gets in there and does the damage, then there’s no way you can reverse it. So that’s the problem that we have with lead primarily for children under the age of two. Now, it does affect others especially with very high concentrations. You can get kidney failure, you can get anemic from an overdose of lead. But the main concern is small children. The concern with lead is really accumulative in effect. In other words, if you wear a lipstick which has somewhat a high concentration of lead, once or twice a week, that’s not big deal. If you wear it everyday particularly lipstick because it tends to get ingested, you know, women know that. It’s glasses when we drink and we tend to chew our lips sometimes, bite our lips. So it becomes ingested so it’s really the cumulative that we have to worry about. It builds up into the system, the same with children who may chew on toys or when they ingest small chips of paint that has peeled off of toys or even peeled off of walls inside homes, it leads again to a buildup of lead in their system and that’s what causes the problem. It’s not a one-time use, it’s really cumulative effect. The reason it’s so dangerous is because we don’t have signs and symptoms that we can correlate with the effect of lead in a person’s body. For example, the lead has to be in there and it’s doing its deadly deed before somebody will be symptomatic. The only way you can tell is if you check a lead level. And how often is that done? It’s really not done unless somebody is suspicious of lead being accumulated in the body, and again, without signs and symptoms, we really aren’t suspicious that way. Now, there is one instance where we actually do lead testing. We do it in general in the pediatrics population during their regular visits. We do it at some sense or point. But if patients are living in homes that have been built before the 1970’s that’s when lead used to be a big ingredient in paint. And so the paint from most homes actually has a concentration of lead that’s high enough that again if the child ingest the little chips that are peeling off, they can develop accumulative problem with lead. So we really pay very close attention. Unfortunately when you think about it, older homes, they’ll probably be in the areas that are less well off, lower socioeconomic class and that’s really where we see the problems with lead. First of all, they need to be aware. So that’s the firs thing and the second thing is they need to be educated as to what the damage can be done with a lead poisoning situation.