Lead and the compounds which contain lead are poisonous. Although it has been used in numerous consumer products, lead is a toxic metal now known to be harmful to human health if inhaled or ingested. Lead poison is retained in the body, and if a person is exposed to lead over a long period, poison builds up and causes damage to the brain and nervous system. This affect can cause weakness and loss of coordination and mental powers. Lead can also be injurious to bone marrow.
Young children, infants, and fetuses appear to be particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning. A dose of lead that would have little effect on an adult can have a big effect on a small body. Growing children will absorb any lead they consume more rapidly. As already mentioned, a child’s mental and physical development can be irreversibly stunted by over-exposure to lead. In infants, whose diet consists of liquids made with water, such as baby formula, lead in drinking water make up an even greater proportion of total lead exposure, forty (40) to sixty (60) percent.
It is estimated that lead in drinking water contributes between ten (10) and twenty (20) percent of total lead exposure in young children. In the last few years, federal controls on lead in gasoline have significantly reduced people’s exposure to lead.
The degree of harm depends upon the level range from subtle biochemical changes at low levels of exposure to severe neurological and toxic effects or even death at extremely high levels.