Health risks of lead poisoning

Caroline Baumker, News Editor


Recently, District 202 officials confirmed that 31 classroom and office sinks in nine schools still fail the lead testing requirements  from earlier in the year, but all water fountains are now safe.

The effects of lead are very different depending on the person.

“When you ingest lead it starts accumulating…the longer you’re exposed, the more dangerous it is over time,” chemistry teacher, Lindsay Casey stated.

According to Casey, outside of death, some symptoms of lead in children when ingested are lower IQs, slowed growth, as well as learning and behavioral difficulties.

The ways lead effects adults are by attacking the reproductive organs, heart and kidneys.

Lead can be especially dangerous for pregnant women.

“If a mom is pregnant, she’ll pass it on into the fetus,” neonatologist, Dr. Cristina Baumker said.

The toxic effects of lead in the bloodstream of the baby has different results depending on the amount. A lot of lead can lead to nerve problems and mental retardation.

Lead does not come out of the body by natural means. “Lead is removed with a chelating agent, which is medication,” Baumker said.

Chelating agents such as Summicer can be used to treat lead poisoning and are injected into the body in order to remove metals, like lead, from the bloodstream.

The agents remove the metals by binding onto them and moving them to the kidneys where they are filtered out.

Outside of lead poisoning, chelation therapy is thought to be unproved, as well as controversial.

“Chelation therapy, as a specific treatment for hardening of the arteries, is disputed, and this is where the controversy comes in,” Dr. Johnathan Collin said.

While chelating agents have proven effective for treating lead poisoning, among the other conditions it has been tested with, it has been considered as being unable to treat atherosclerosis- the buildup of cholesterol, fats and other substances in the arteries.

Another way people have fought against the metal is by inventing water filters to help keep ingestion from occurring.

As far as filtration at home, there are many ways people can protect themselves.

One protective measure is with faucet mounts. The mount uses diverters to guide water through the filter.

There are also refrigerator filters. Most filters contain a date that indicates when they need to be changed.

An overused fridge filter starts to lack the ability to sort contaminants out of the water and may even deposit them back into the water. Thus, filters need to be changed regularly.

Lastly, the pour through pitcher method is effective.  All a person needs is gravity to do the work as water drips through a water filter located in a pitcher.

It is necessary to look to make sure that the filter is rated to remove lead along with other contaminants.