Lead is a naturally occurring metal found in the earth's crust. Lead can be found many places, much because of human activity through burning fossil fuels, mining, and manufacturing. Water can be contaminated with lead from mines, waste dumps, and industrial plants. House paint and gasoline were once manufactured with lead. Fishing sinkers and jigs are often made from lead. Most firearms ammunition contain lead including pellets, shot, slugs, round balls, and bullets.
Lead has been removed from gasoline, house paint, ceramics, and solder because of human health concerns. Lead water pipes are no longer used in home construction.
Lead is a potentially deadly toxin that damages the nervous system and internal organs of the body. You must inhale lead dust, swallow lead particles, or absorb lead through your skin for lead to enter your body. Lead mimics calcium and travels in the blood stream to organs first and then is absorbed into bone, just like calcium. Lead is an accumulative poison. Some lead can stay in your bones many years and can enter your blood and organs again during pregnancy and as you age.
Lead never changes or breaks down. Because children are growing, they will store more lead in their bodies from an exposure episode than adults. Repetitive exposure to lead results in higher levels of lead in blood and bone. These factors make lead poisoning especially concerning for very young children and women who are pregnant. Repetitive exposure can also come from work environments and hobbies that still use lead.
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