Lead is a natural element that can be dangerous if it makes its way into your drinking water. Lead used to be commonly used in household plumbing. In Canada, it was the most popular metal to use in lead solder that was used to join plumbing lines together. Lead was also used in the service line connecting a house to the local municipal water grid. However, due to its risk levels lead stopped being used in the late 1980s.
But what are the health risks of lead and lead exposure?
If it gets into drinking water, lead can lead to many negative health impacts. Though everyone is exposed to trace amounts of lead from one time to another through air, soil, dust, food and even consumer products, it can also leach into water. It does this through the process of corrosion.
The key people at risk from lead exposure are young children, pregnant women and infants. Research shows that even being exposed to small amounts of lead can harm those demographic groups.
Children absorb lead much more easily than adults. This makes them more vulnerable to its harmful health effects.For infants, the result can be damaged or impaired intellectual development, physical size and hearing – and all this is possible from even relatively low levels of exposure.
Pregnant mothers are also another risk group because lead can cross the placenta and be
transferred to their unborn child. What’s more, it can be transferred through breast milk. The harmful results to the fetus include premature birth, smaller birth size, lower mental capabilities, learning difficulties and a slow rate of growth.
But adults, too, can be harmed by lead exposure. If exposed during an extended period they can run the risk of damage to their nervous system, which is the main part of the body affected by lead. The symptoms here can include forgetting things more easily, being tired more often, headaches, swings in mood and behaviours, decreased intelligence, impaired hand dexterity, and even weaker arms, legs, wrists, ankles and fingers.
Even being exposed to low levels of lead can result in a greater risk of kidney damage and kidney disease, higher blood pressure, anemia, lower sperm count, and, for children, a greater future risk of developing osteoporosis. The health impacts even extend to digestive problems such as abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting; and altered immune systems and levels of certain types of hormones.
And in the long, research indicates that lead exposure can increase the odds of developing cancer. This is why a major cancer group, International Agency for Research on Cancer, considers lead as a probable carcinogen to humans.
If you’re concerned about possibly having health symptoms from lead exposure, you should consult your doctor. He or she will do a blood test that checks the level of lead in your blood. This is the best way to screen for and diagnosis blood lead levels. Simply put, the greater the levels of lead in your blood then the higher the chances of the health effects. But scientists caution that there isn’t a 100 percent correlation between health and the level of environmental lead exposure. The lead levels can vary depending on different sources of exposure, and exposure to lead in water can’t predict blood lead levels. Also make sure that pipes in your home doesn’t contain lead in any amount, and if it does do not hesitate to call the plumbing service to change the pipes.
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Paul Graver has been in the health industry for more than 20 years. He likes to be updated with the latest medical developments. He is an active blogger and writes mainly articles on health related issues. He can be followed on twitter at https://twitter.com/PaulGraver1. In this article he has written about a very serious problem, that is of the effects of lead in drinking water. He has explained how it will affect children, adults and pregnant women in different ways.