What do paint, water pipes, toys, jewelry, and batteries all have in common? These everyday items are popular sources of lead. While lead exposure may not seem like a health risk, it can lead to a multitude of lead-related health issues if left untreated. Read on to learn more about how lead toxicity can be dangerous.
Lead can be found in almost every environment (such as your home, work, or school building) and is widely known to be a toxic heavy metal. Because of lead’s continuous use and non-biodegradable qualities, it can put you at serious risk of toxicity. Lead is a poisonous metal, and when overused, toxicity will occur that can wreak havoc on your renal, reproductive, and nervous systems.
Dangers of Lead Toxicity
Lead toxicity can be dangerous to both adults and children, but research has shown that infants and children are more at risk than adults due to their soft internal and external tissues. Since children are at the beginning stages of their cognitive development, lead toxicity may impair cognitive function, behavioral issues, and learning deficits. When adults are continuously exposed to lead, this can lead to brain and kidney damage, which increases the risk of mortality. In men, lead toxicity can increase risk of infertility and in women, it can cause complications during pregnancy.
Sources of Lead Toxicity
From common household items to beauty products, lead is present in many aspects of daily life. Here are some examples of lead products that you may have sitting around your house right now:
- Paint. Older homes can contain lead-based paint, which is dangerous, because when the paint begins to chip, it leads to lead dust. This can be found on stairways, windows, doors, floors, and just about any surface of a house. Exposure to lead-based paint can be hazardous when inhaled or directly touched.
- Drinking water. Is your drinking water contaminated? It’s hard to tell, but a few common sources of lead found in drinking water include faucets, plumbing fixtures, and pipes. When water has higher levels of acid and lower mineral content, this enhances the severity of lead toxicity.
- Soil. Lead-contaminated soil is generally found in urban areas and homes that were built before 1978 (the year that lead-based paint was banned). This is more dangerous towards children than in adults because they are more likely to have direct contact with it when they are touching, breathing, or playing with it.
- Line of Work, Hobbies, or Activities. Your day-to-day activities may put you at risk for lead toxicity. Those who have more exposure to lead, such as electricians, plumbers, auto body mechanics, and metal workers, are at a higher risk of lead toxicity. Even simple hobbies and activities, such as conducting home renovation, soldering and casting, and shooting firearms can increase this risk.
- Food, Cosmetics, and Medicines. Lead can be found in various consumer products, such as food, cosmetics, and even certain medicines. Unfortunately, you can’t easily assume that these items contain lead unless they are tested in labs. For this reason, conducting research on certain products prior to purchase is critical to reduce your chances of lead exposure.
Negative Health Effects of Lead Toxicity
Continuous, long-term lead exposure can result in serious health issues. If you (or someone you know) feel that you have lead toxicity, here are a few symptoms to be aware of.
Symptoms in Adults:
- Abdominal pain
- Memory loss
- Loss of appetite
Symptoms in Children and Infants:
- Developmental delay
- Learning difficulties
- Weight loss
Since lead is extremely toxic, this can cause even more serious symptoms. Lead toxicity can result in behavioral problems and reduced IQ in children, and can cause hypertension, reproductive issues, renal impairment, and immunotoxicity in adults. In some cases, the severity of symptoms may decrease or increase depending on exposure and engagement in preventative measures.
The good news is that lead exposure is preventable! According to the CDC, there are primary and secondary preventions that can reduce the negative health impacts associated with lead exposure. This involves the complete removal of lead hazards from the environment and blood lead testing with follow-up appointments.
Saunas and Lead Toxicity
While there are general ways to detect and prevent lead toxicity, there is one treatment method that is both easy and useful. Regular sauna use is considered to be a good source of low-risk, beneficial treatment for those who are overexposed to lead. Whether it’s dry heat, with steam, or other sources of saunas, research has shown that sauna use can act as a therapy method to eliminate lead toxicity. This works because when you sit in a sauna, you begin to sweat, which eliminates toxic chemicals found in your body and provides a natural detox solution. Saunas also support weight management, increased blood circulation, increased metabolism, enhanced relaxation, stress reduction, and improved cardiovascular function. Read more about the health benefits of sauna use here. If you want to try out our sauna services, book your appointment here.
Disclaimer: Saunas can be used for any age group, but be sure to consult with a healthcare professional before use.
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