Lead can usually be found in paint that is used in older buildings (prior to 1978) and it can also be found in contaminated soil, water and air. Adults are also at risk of lead poisoning, especially those that work with automobile repair, home renovations or with batteries.
Your child may be at risk of lead poisoning if he or she is an infant or a toddler younger than 6. These children are more at risk compared to older children because they absorb lead more quickly and the effects of lead are more pronounced. You child is also at risk if you live in an older apartment or house, since there were no regulations on lead being used in paints before. You should also be careful about the toys that your child plays with: those that are made from developing countries may not be safe because there are no strict rules about the use of lead in paint products.
Symptoms of lead poisoning in children include irritability i.e. throwing more tantrums than usual, weight loss and loss of appetite, fatigue and losing interest in play, vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation and learning difficulties. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends having children tested during the age of 1 or 2, or at the latest 3 or 4 to check for lead levels in the body, especially if they frequent an old building, or have relatives that suffer from lead poisoning. A simple blood test can determine the levels of lead in the body.
If your child is diagnosed with lead poisoning, there are steps that could be taken to halt the exposure. For one, the source of lead poisoning must be determined and all sources removed. This could be toys, or if the home is the culprit, a repainting may be in order to seal in the old paint. More severe cases calls for a process called chelation therapy which binds lead to a medication so it can be expelled out into the urine, as well as a drug called EDTA or ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid which also works to cleanse the blood of metals.