One out of every six children under the age of six are suffering from health disorders due to the poisonous metal, lead. Lead is a natural occurring bluish-gray metal found in the earth's crust. It has no taste or smell. Lead can easily be found in all parts of our environment today. Most of it comes from mining, manufacturing, and the burning of fossil fuels. In the United States lead poison has increased because of the lack of knowledge in our society. Lead is released into the environment by industries, the burning of fossil fuels or wastes.
When lead enters the environment, it starts to become a problem. After a period of about ten days, depending on the weather, it falls to the surface. Here lead builds up in the soil particles. Where it may make its way into underground water or drinking water due to the fact the grounds acidic or if it's soft enough. Either way it stays a long time on the soil or in water. Months or years down the road after the lead has built up it starts to become a problem for children that play outside of their homes . This lead containing soil particles get on the child's hands or clothing and end up in the child's mouth. After the build up of so much lead it leads to lead poison. Lead poisoning has been an issue since the early 1900s, when the use of lead started being banned from the manufacturing of paint in foreign countries such as Australia. Unfortunately, the United States did not start banning it until 1978, when it finally became illegal in our nation. Today 90% of the lead in the atmosphere comes from the burning of gasoline. This problem has been a large issue since the 1920s, when the Environmental Protection Agency started making laws on the amount of lead allowed in gasoline.
There are many other ways that a child, especially under the age of six can be diagnosed to lead poison besides air pollution. One of the most common ways is when a child eats or chews on an object that has lead based paint chips in or on its surface. Parents can easily prevent this from happening by reading labels or buying objects which are not painted. Another way in a child can be affected is by drinking water that comes from lead pipes. Houses built prior to 1978 have been found very unsafe due to the older pipes. These pipes can be easily replaced in most situations. This process may be expensive but it pays off dearly when it comes to your family, and never let your child drink from a water fountain or a water hose that you are not sure is safe.
The build up of lead in the soils another problem. Bare soil can easily contain lead from car exhaust, paint peeling, and near by industries pollution. The easiest way to prevent this is by not letting you child play on bare soil or cover the soil before letting the child play in the area. Breathing workplace air has been a problem in past also.
It’s always best that you know the area really well that you child is playing in. An incident that occurred in North Carolina recently, was a young child was discovered having lead poison after eating some pool-cue chalk. Researchers here found the chalk could actually be a source of environmental lead. There are many effects that lead poison can have on a child if diagnosed at an early age. These injuries are severe because the body and the brain isn’t fully developed, which can leave children with irreversible injuries that does not appear until many years after the exposure of lead. In young children, lead slows the development of the central nervous system and brain. Lower levels of lead can reduce their IQ, reading and learning disabilities, ADD and behavior problems.
1. Anon. Preventing Lead Poison. (1996). Kiwanis International.
2 Encyclopedia Britannica 1996 ed.