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Essay/Term paper: The effects of lead poison on children

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Science Research Papers

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The Effects of Lead Poison on Children

Throughout the world today one out of every six children under the age
of six are suffering from health disorders due to a poisonous metal known as
lead(Kiwanis, 1996). Lead is a natural occurring bluish-grey 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 last
but not least the burning of fossil fuels(Xintaras, 1993). In the United States
lead poison has increased because of the lack of knowledge in our society.
(Background information on the effect's lead poison has on children)
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 (Xintaras,
1993). These 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 a problem commonly known as 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(Monheit, 1996).
Unfortunately the United States did not start banding 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 EPA(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 of our past 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(Verstraaten, 1997). 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(Reducing Lead Hazards When Remodeling Your Home,
1994). 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(Handout IIa: Activities
to Reduce Environmental Exposure, 1997). Breathing workplace air has been a
problem in past also. When parents are not aware of the near by power plants or
industries, which could be letting off lead into the air. It can lead to
problems. So its always best that you know the area really well that you child
is playing in. Another incident that occurred here recently in North Carolina
was a young child was discovered having lead poison after eating some pool-cue
chalk. Researchers here found the cue chalk could actually be a source of
environmental lead(Modica 1996). There
are many effects or symptom that lead poison can have on a child if diagnosed at
an early age. These injuries our so severe because the body and the brain are
not fully developed, which can leave children with subtle but irreversible
injuries that does not appear until many years after the exposure of
lead(Monheit, 1). In young children, lead retards the development of the
central nervous system and brain. Lower levels of lead can reduce their IQ,
reading and learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder and behavior
problems. When these are added up it causes the student to become a dropout
from school and a negative contribution to our communities(Monheit, 1996).
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta
(CDC) have found that these injuries occur when blood levels rise to a mere 10
Micrograms per deciliter of whole blood. Lead poisoning is treatable in the
early stages due to the great amount of investigation that the medical and
environmental fields have put forth, but the damage that the lead does in a
child's body is not treatable, so once the lead has been damaged, its permanent
(Monheit, 1996). The CDC also asks parents to make sure that their child
receives a blood-lead test at each pediatric checkup at least until the age of
seven. If any of the following symptoms, are obtained by any child consult to
immediate emergency care:
sluggish behavior, apathy
staring periods, tremors, seizures, loss of consciousness
abdomen cramps, loss of appetite, constipation

hyperactive behavior All of the following symptoms are early stages of
lead poisoning and if not treated when possible the symptoms of this poisoning
may lead to a child being put into a coma or even death. (Ways that people
can stay informed on lead poison)
Information on lead poison today is so easy to get access of. One of the
easiest sources of information can be found on the Internet. Many people still
do not yet realize how much information it releases. I found that this subject
had thousands of documents over the Internet that could be easily reached by the
touch of a few keys. Examples of this is: Preventing lead poisoning by the
Kiwanis International, Lead Paint Poisoning of Children by the Law Offices of
Herbert Monheit, and Lead by ToxFAQs. Besides the Internet they're other tools
that can easily be obtained such as Ebsco Host. This is a program in which one
can find information in periodacles over a computer. It saves a lot of time
because one doesn't have to go to a library and look through periodicals that
can take hours. Being this was my first time exploring this program I found
many valuable keys of information in it such as: Preventing Childhood Poisoning,
the FDA Consumer, which explains the steps that the FDA are taking in order to
stay informed on lead and lead poisoning. Lead in Homes Subject to Additional
Disclosure by Business Journal of Charlotte magazine. This magazine tells about
the new federal regulations on lead-based paint in 1996. If one doesn't have
access of either of these programs most libraries have many books and
periodicals that cover this subject.

Other programs that stay informed on this issue can be found governmental
agencies such as the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, located in
Washington D.C.. This Alliance staff offers technical assistance and will help
clubs find local contacts who can offer expert advice for local preventing
program. Materials and requests are also found through the Alliance. Examples
of this is: Guide to State Lead Screening Laws, Resource Guide for Financing,
Lead-Based Paint Cleanup, and copies of fact-filled articles from news papers,
magazines, and other organizations. Another governmental agency which seems to
be on top of this subject is The Environmental Protection Agency. They make
the law and requirements on lead in our environment today. The Lead Institute
of San Francisco offers free pamphlet on lead poisoning and sells testing kits
and books on lead poisoning. Another is the National Lead Information
Center/Hotline located in Washington, D.C. has a variety of brochures and facts
sheets aimed at Parents and explaining the dangers of lead poisoning, the
importance of testing children, and safe home renovations(Kiwanis International,
1996). In Chicago Illinois the Films Incorporated Video is a programs that
obtain video tape and study guides tilted for the awareness of kids in lead
hazard areas. These developed films by Consumers Reports Television and
Connecticut Public Television can be purchased for a small price(Kiwanis
International, 1996). The broadcast media doesn't play a big role on lead
poisoning unless an incident comes along which turns out to affect a large
number of people or an important individual. If one needs to stay informed on
this information over a sustained period of time, I would direct them to the
Internet, because its filled with so many resources and its always up dating its
information on a daily bases.
(Encouraging Governmental Actions)
The government has many actions to protect human health. One of the
leading agencies in this field is the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA
began in 1970 with the passage of landmark legislation. Much has been
accomplished it those 27 years, but much remains to be done. Due to the
learning and failure of the EPA an extensive study entitled Reinventing
Environmental Regulations took place on March 16, 1995, the study makes several
important points:
Americans are committed to a healthy environment.
Pollution is a sign of economic inefficiency.
Profits can be improved by preventing pollution.
Better decisions result from collaborative processes than adversarial
Regulations allowing flexibility can provide greater protection at lower
cost. (Hankinson,1996) These regulations would probably not of taken place if it
was not up to the regional administrator for Region IV of the United States,
John H. Hankinson Jr. (Hankinson, 1996). Today the EPA limits the amount of
lead that can be in leaded gasoline to 0.1 grams of lead per gallon of
gasoline(0.1g/gal), and unleaded gasoline to 0.05g/gal. The amount lead in the
air is required under 1.5 micrograms per cubic meter average over three month
period, and lead in drinking water to 15 micrograms per liter (Xintaras, 1993).
If help is needed the EPA works with several different agencies such as:
Occupational Safety and Health Administration that can be reached by this Number
(202) 219-8151, the National Conference of State Legislatures at (303) 830-2200,
and the National Lead Information Center Clearinghouse at (800) 424-LEAD.
The Food & Drug Administration(FDA) is one of the oldest protection
agencies in our nation today. The FDA is a public health agency, charged with
protecting American consumers by enforcing the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic
Act and several related public health laws. Today the FDA is located in 157
cities across the country. It investigates and inspects around 95,000 FDA-
regulated businesses(The Food and Drug Administration, 1995). This organization
is taken steps to protect children from lead poisoning by proposing regulations
that will make it harder for small children to gain access to high-potency lead
products. FDA is also helping ensure that health-care providers and consumers
are alerted to the dangers associated with accidental overdoses of lead-
containing products (Hingley, 1996). Today the FDA is headed by the Commissioner
David A. Kessler, M.D.
Government officials face many key arguments or points each day. One
argument that I would encourage governmental official to look at is the amount
of lead allowed in gasoline. Today the burning of leaded gasoline is the number
one pollution dealing with lead. So in my opinion I would suggest that they
reduce the amount of lead in gasoline so that are children and the following
generations do not have to deal with this problem. Another point is what is the
government and their agencies doing in order prevent this pollution from causing
problems in our future. (Supporting non-governmental Organizations)
Besides governmental organization there are organizations that work
throughout different communities that try too help people that are in need. One
example of this is the Program Development Department Kiwanis International.
This organization has a few goals it would like their communities to know about:
1. Awareness of the risk of lead poisoning and particularly the danger
in home renovations.
2. Identification of Children who are at risk of who are already
3. Removal and reduction of the lead hazard in hones, child care
centers, and schools. They ask if there any questions about
any of these goals or anything about preventing lead poison to contact them at:

Program Development Department Kiwanis International 3636 Wooodview Trace
Indianapolis, IN 46268-3196 U.S.A. 317/875-8755, ext.214 800/549-2647 (North
America Only) (Kiwanis International, 1996) (Steps that I can Personally take to
Make a Difference)

Besides governmental and non-governmental organizations there are steps
that we can make in our communities that will help out. One step that I would
personally take is by letting my friends and family know some of the facts on
lead poison such as:
1. Where not to let there children play
2. Toys children should not play with
3. Items that one should not bye due to high amounts of lead

This would help them keep their homes in a condition which would be safer for
there children. These steps may take a little time and money but the outcome
will help ensure a cleaner environment for the next generation.


1. Anon. Preventing Lead Poison. (1996). Kiwanis International.
2. Verstraaten, John. Lead Inspection. (1997). Environmental Concepts
Inc. http://www.gate./~verstraa/lead.htm.
3. Anon. An Overview. (1995). The Food and Drug Administration.
4. Xintaras, Charlie. Lead. (1993). ToxFAQs.
5. Modica, Peter. Pool-cue Chalk Can Cause Lead. (1996). Medical Tribune
News Service. http://nytsyn.com/live/Childcare/193_071196_193431_3200.html
6. Anon. Reducing Lead Hazards When Remodeling Your Home. (1994).
Environmental Protection Agency.
7. Monheit, Herbert. Lead Paint Poisoning of Children. (1996). Law
Offices of Herbert Monheit. http://www.civilrights.com/leadpaint.html.
8. Hankinson, John. Reinventing Environmental Protection:EPA's View.
South Carolina Business Journal. (1996)


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