Lead Poisoning

February 3, 2017

Lead poisoning is a medical condition that occurs when people are exposed to lead compounds through inhalation, swallowing and in rare cases, through the skin.

Lead is ubiquitous in human environment, because of its excellent physic-chemical properties, low cost and easy workability and is widely used in many industrial and domestic activities, however lead is toxic. It is a colorless, tasteless and odorless metal and is used in variety of products and materials, like, paint, pipes, batteries, chemical compounds, glassware, toys, etc. When lead is absorbed into the body, it can cause serious damage to vital organs like the brain, kidneys, nerves, and blood cells. Lead poisoning is especially harmful to children under the age of six.

How does Lead poisoning works?

Lead mimics biologically helpful minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc. Most lead settles in the bone, interfering with the production of red blood cells (leading to anemia). It also interferes with the absorption of calcium, which is required for strong bones, muscles, healthy muscle contraction, and blood vessel function. Lead poisoning is much more serious when children are exposed to lead. Since their bodies are not fully developed, lead poisoning can cause:

  • Brain, liver, and kidney damage
  • Slowed development
  • Learning or behavior problems
  • Lowered intellect or IQ
  • Hearing loss
  • Restlessness

Where is lead found? / Causes

Lead poisoning occurs when lead is ingested. It can also be caused by breathing in dust that contains lead. You cannot smell or taste lead. It is not visible to the naked eye.

Lead used to be common in house paint and gasoline in the United States. These products are not produced with lead any longer. However, lead is still present everywhere. It is especially found in older houses.

Studies suggest that more than 3 million workers in the United States are at risk for toxic lead exposure.

Lead is found in:

  • Lead is found in paints. Lead paint is very dangerous when it is being stripped or sanded. These actions release fine lead dust into the air. Infants and children have the highest risk of lead poisoning. Small children often swallow paint chips or dust from lead-based paint.
  • Toys and furniture painted before 1976
  • Painted toys and decorations made outside the U.S.
  • Lead bullets, fishing sinkers, curtain weights
  • Plumbing, pipes, and faucets. Lead can be found in drinking water in homes containing pipes that were connected with lead solder. Although new building codes require lead-free solder, lead is still found in some modern faucets.
  • Soil contaminated by decades of car exhaust or years of house paint scrapings. Lead is more common in soil near highways and houses.
  • Hobbies involving soldering, stained glass, jewelry making, pottery glazing, and miniature lead figures
  • Children’s paint sets and art supplies
  • Pewter pitchers and dinnerware
  • Storage batteries

Sources of Lead

  • Air pollution
  • Automobile exhaust
  • Canned fruit juices
  • Car batteries
  • Ceramics
  • Crayons
  • Dyes
  • Hair coloring
  • Insecticides
  • Lead based paint
  • Leaded Gasoline
  • Mascara
  • Old plumbing
  • Pottery
  • Scrap metal
  • Smelting of lead
  • Soil
  • Textiles
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Water pollution

The effects of lead are the same whether it enters the body through breathing or swallowing. The main target in the body for lead toxicity is the nervous system. Long-term, and high-level exposure of adults to lead can cause brain and kidney damage. High-level lead exposure in men and women can affect their reproductive health. A pregnant woman’s exposure to lead can increase her risk for delivering her baby early, and for having a small baby. Children are more vulnerable to lead poisoning than adults because their nervous systems are still developing.

Children’s bodies absorb more of the lead they take in than adult bodies. Babies and small children can swallow or breathe in lead from contaminated dirt, dust, or sand while they play on the ground or floor. These activities make it easier for children to be exposed because the dirt or dust on their hands, toys, or other items may contain lead. Children are also more sensitive to the effects of lead than adults. Even at low levels of exposure, lead can affect a child’s learning, behavior and growth.


Signs and symptoms of Lead poisoning may include –

  • In General –
    • Blood lead over 10 µg/dL
    • Hypertension
    • Decreased nerve conduction velocity
    • Hyper-reflexia
    • Tremors
    • Upper extremity weakness
    • Forearm extensor weakness (wrist drop)
    • Gingival lead lines (purple-blue lines within gingival tissue)
    • Buccal lead staining
    • Papilledema
    • Increased intracranial pressure
    • Macular gray stains
  • The signs and symptoms of lead poisoning in children may include
    • Developmental delay
    • Learning difficulties
    • Irritability
    • Loss of appetite
    • Weight loss
    • Sluggishness and fatigue
    • Abdominal pain
    • Vomiting
    • Constipation
    • Hearing loss
  • Babies who are exposed to lead before birth may experience –
    • Learning difficulties
    • Slowed growth
  • Although children are primarily at risk, lead poisoning is also dangerous for adults. Signs and symptoms in adults may include:
    • High blood pressure
    • Abdominal pain
    • Constipation
    • Joint pains
    • Muscle pain
    • Declines in mental functioning
    • Pain, numbness or tingling of the extremities
    • Headache
    • Memory loss
    • Mood disorders
    • Reduced sperm count, abnormal sperm
    • Miscarriage or premature birth in pregnant women

Associated Disease with Lead Poisoning

Exposure to even low levels of lead can cause damage over time, especially in children. The greatest risk is to brain development, where irreversible damage may occur. Higher levels can damage the kidneys and nervous system in both children and adults. Very high lead levels may cause seizures, unconsciousness and possibly death. Following are the assi=ociated disease that can be a reason of Lead Exposure –

  • ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
  • Alcoholism
  • ALS
  • Anemia
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorders
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Asthma
  • Arthritis
  • Autoimmune Disorders
  • Candidiasis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gout
  • Gulf War Syndrome
  • Heart Diseases
  • Insomnia
  • Infertility
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Schizophrenia
  • Thyroid Disorders


Chelation Therapy – Chelation therapy is most often used to treat heavy metal poisoning. However because EDTA can reduce the amount of calcium in the bloodstream, and because calcium is found within the plaque that can line diseased blood vessels, some health practitioners claim that chelation can be used to treat atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) by reopening arteries clogged with plaque. They maintain that using chelation for this purpose is an effective and less expensive alternative to coronary artery bypass surgery, angioplasty, and other conventional medical treatments.

  • EDTA chelation therapy might directly remove calcium found in fatty plaques that block arteries, thus breaking up the plaques.
  • Chelation therapy may stimulate release of a hormone that in turn causes calcium to be removed from plaques or causes a lowering of cholesterol levels.
  • Chelation therapy may reduce the damaging effects of oxygen ions (oxidative stress) on the walls of the blood vessels, which could reduce inflammation in the arteries and improve blood vessel function.

Medications (Oral Chelation therapy)

  • Dimercaptosuccinic Acid (DMSA, Succimer) – Succimer is an orally chelating agent that is commonly used for the treatment of blood lead concentrations above 45 mcg/dL in the United States. The side effects include gastrointestinal effects.
  • Racemic-2,3-dimercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid (DMPS, Unithiol, Dimaval) – DMPS is a chelating agent that is related to dimercaprol and DMSA. It is water soluble and is reported to be less toxic than dimercaprol. It is available for oral, intravenous and intramuscular use for the treatment of mercury, arsenic, lead, chromium and copper (Wilson’s Disease) poisoning.
  • Penicillamine – Penicillamine is a D-B, B-dimethylcysteine, a penicillin degradation product. It is a potent gold, lead, mercury, zinc and copper chelator and is the drug of choice for treating Wilson’s disease.

Nutritional Balance is one of the things that helps to counteract lead toxicity. When your body has optimal amounts of zinc, calcium, magnesium, selenium, iron, copper, B Vitamins this helps to curb the effects of lead on your system. Vitamin C is key because it neutralizes the effects of lead and increases its elimination.

Glutathione – Glutathione is a short string of amino acids called a peptide. It is composed of three amino acids: glycine, glutamine and cysteine. It is a major player in detoxifying the body of many toxic pollutants, including toxic metals and chemicals. Glutathione deficiency impairs the body’s ability to get rid of toxins whether they are environmental or the by-products of cellular metabolism. Glutathione is a supplement that is extremely difficult to absorb. Most oral supplements are worthless, because the digestive tract destroys the nutrient before it can be absorbed. Supplements such as NAC can help the body make more glutathione, but the effect is mild. This is why intravenous therapy was once considered to be the only therapy that really works.

R-Lipoic Acid – This is used for removing Metal Ions from the brain. Being both water and fat soluble, R-Lipioc acid passes the blood-brain that helps to metals like lead and mercury that can attach to fatty cellls and brain neurons. It has also been shown to help decrease metals from the liver as well. It also extends the life of other antioxidants like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, selenium, and CoQ10 in the body. This is important because a heavy metal load creates more free radical activity. The longer an antioxidant can scavenge these free radicals, the less the “detox cleansing” reaction may last.

Vitamin C – Vitamin C, in large acts as a chelating agent. An antioxidant in its own right, vitamin C also helps to protect us from heavy metals, particularly lead and arsenic which can poison certain enzyme reactions in your body. It is also used to protect us from the effects of environmental pollution and is a free radical fighter. The use of Vitamin C is one of the most effective methods for raising cellular glutathione levels. Glutathione is the cell’s master detoxification agent. Vitamin C helps to lower toxic metal levels as well as elevate calcium and magnesium levels, minerals that are essential for the body, and are often depleted in a toxic terrain.

Vitamin E – In combination with vitamin C, vitamin E is a traditional chelating agent used for assiting in heavy metal detox. Vitamin E is a very potent antioxidant that protects the body from free radical damage and oxidation. This is important during chelation because a heavy metal burden in the tissue and bones creates oxidative stress on cell membranes and a general inflammatory condition. Vitamin E has also been shown to help chelate heavy metals such as mercury. It is important to use a vitamin that is devoid of all fillers or additives, and provides 400 IU of d-alpha tocopherol and is extra-high in the total tocopherol complex, especially d-gamma tocopherol.

Iron – Both low iron status and elevated lead exposure impair hematopoiesis and intellectual development during gestation and infancy. Exposure to lead and reduced iron status result in greater impairment than the lead-associated impairment. Iron supplementation has been shown to prevent lead-induced disruption of the blood-brain barrier.

Zinc – Deficiencies of other trace elements, such as zinc, may increase both lead absorption and lead toxicity. Zinc Supplements are very useful in this case.


  • Garlic is another natural remedy that can be used to heal from lead and mercury poisoning. In 1960 a Belgian scientist discovered in his research that garlic can bring about detoxification in cases of chronic lead poisoning. The sulfur in garlic also plays a big role in combatting mercury poisoning.
  • Aloe Vera which can be taken in juice form or by using the gel from the plant (in moderation) can help with heavy metal toxicity especially lead because it loosens bowel movements so that toxins can be expelled from the body.
  • Brazil Nuts contain selenium which is a powerful mineral for neutralizing toxins.
  • Cilantro is a heavy metal detoxifying superfood which actually binds mercury in the bloodstream and facilitates it leaving the body. It is also a very powerful remedy for flushing lead and aluminum.
  • Chlorella, another heavy metal superfood is a single-celled fresh water algae that acts as an efficient detox agent. The large amounts of chlorophyll present in chlorella make it extremely powerful, allowing the body to process more oxygen, cleanse the blood, and promote the growth and repair of tissues.