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  • Sources of Lead

  • Getting the Lead Out:
    Are Your Kids Safe?

    A lead abatement worker rids a home of the contaminant. Concerned parents can conduct a lead check of their homes. Testing kits are available at most hardware stores.

    How does lead poisoning affect a child?

    While lead poisoning can be devastating, symptoms are often subtle. These may include: 

    • irritability
    • lack of appetite
    • low energy
    • joint pain
    • in very young children, loss of recently acquired developmental skills

    As lead builds in the body, it can damage the brain, kidneys, nerves and blood cells. High levels of lead can cause hearing loss, growth problems, seizures and coma. And while lead poisoning is most often caused by paint, children may be exposed to lead from unexpected sources.

    Sources of lead

    "We had one child who tested at a very high level," Salmons says. "We moved the family on Friday, and on Monday, the child tested even higher. It turned out that the family had been eating fish with high lead levels, caught in waters that had been contaminated years ago by the jewelry industry."

    Birdshot and fishing weights also deposit lead in lakes, ponds and rivers. Lead is present in pewter pitchers and dinnerware, lead crystal and ceramic dishes that have lead glazes. It also leaches from copper pipes soldered with lead.

    It takes four to eight months to get a child's lead level down. Once significant damage has been done, there is no way to correct it.

    Now there's an antidote to lead poisoning.