Homeworks academic writing service


The element of lead and its effects on the environment

  • Each variation is an isotope;
  • Although the amount of lead is small, the variety of uses for these compounds is large;
  • But one of its ores, lead sulfide PbS , is fairly common.

Key facts Lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children. Lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones. It is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time. Human exposure is usually assessed through the measurement of lead in blood. Lead in bone is released into blood during pregnancy and becomes a source of exposure to the developing fetus.

There is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe. Lead exposure is preventable.

Lead poisoning and health

Its widespread use has resulted in extensive environmental contamination, human exposure and significant public health problems in many parts of the world. Important sources of environmental contamination include mining, smelting, manufacturing and recycling activities, and, in some countries, the continued use of leaded paint, leaded gasoline, and leaded aviation fuel. More than three quarters of global lead consumption is for the manufacture of lead-acid batteries for motor vehicles. Lead is, however, also used in many other products, for example pigments, paints, solder, stained glass, lead crystal glassware, ammunition, ceramic glazes, jewellery, toys and in some cosmetics and traditional medicines.

Drinking water delivered through lead pipes or pipes joined with lead solder may contain lead. Much of the lead in global commerce is now obtained from recycling.

Young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health effects, particularly affecting the development of the brain and nervous system.

Learn about Lead

Lead also causes long-term harm in adults, including increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage. Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of lead can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight. Sources and routes of exposure People can become exposed to lead through occupational and environmental sources. This mainly results from: An additional source of exposure is the use of certain types of unregulated cosmetics and medicines.

High levels of lead have, for example, been reported in certain types of kohl, as well as in some traditional medicines used in countries such as India, Mexico and Viet Nam. Consumers should therefore take care only to buy and use regulated products. Young children are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning because they absorb 4—5 times as much ingested lead as adults from a given source.

Health effects of lead poisoning on children

This route of exposure is magnified in children with a psychological disorder called pica persistent and compulsive cravings to eat non-food itemswho may, for example pick away at, and eat, leaded paint from walls, door frames and furniture. Exposure to lead-contaminated soil and dust resulting from battery recycling and mining has caused mass lead poisoning and multiple deaths in young children in Nigeria, Senegal and other countries.

The body stores lead in the teeth and bones where it accumulates over time. Lead stored in bone may be remobilized into the blood during pregnancy, thus exposing the fetus. Undernourished children are more susceptible to lead because their bodies absorb more lead if other nutrients, such as calcium or iron, are lacking.

Sources and routes of exposure

Children at highest risk are the very young including the developing fetus and the impoverished. Health effects of lead poisoning on children Lead exposure can have serious consequences for the health of children. At high levels of exposure, lead attacks the brain and central nervous system to cause coma, convulsions and even death. Children who survive severe lead poisoning may be left with mental retardation and behavioural disorders.

  • At one time, the metal was regarded as quite safe to use for most applications;
  • Lead is one out of four metals that have the most damaging effects on human health.

At lower levels of exposure that cause no obvious symptoms, and that previously were considered safe, lead is now known to produce a spectrum of injury across multiple body systems. Lead exposure also causes anaemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs.

  • By 1990, the use of this compound had been banned by all governments in North America;
  • Human exposure is usually assessed through the measurement of lead in blood.

The neurological and behavioural effects of lead are believed to be irreversible. There is no known safe blood lead concentration. But it is known that, as lead exposure increases, the range and severity of symptoms and effects also increases.

Encouragingly, the successful phasing out of leaded gasoline in most countries, together with other lead control measures, has resulted in a significant decline in population-level blood lead concentrations. There are now only 3 countries that continue to use leaded fuel 1.

More, however, needs to be done regarding the phasing out of lead paint: The highest burden was in low- and middle-income countries. IHME also estimated that in 2016, lead exposure accounted for 63.

WHO response WHO has identified lead as 1 of 10 chemicals of major public health concern, needing action by Member States to protect the health of workers, children and women of reproductive age. WHO has made available through its website a range of information on lead, including information for policy-makers, technical guidance and advocacy materials.

WHO is currently developing guidelines on the prevention and management of lead poisoning, which will provide policy-makers, public health authorities and health professionals with evidence-based guidance on the measures that they can take to protect the health of children and adults from lead exposure.

Its broad objective is to promote a phase-out of the manufacture and sale of paints containing lead and eventually eliminate the risks that such paints pose. The phasing out of lead paint by 2020 is one of the priority actions for governments included in the WHO Road map to enhance health sector engagement in the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management towards the 2020 goal and beyond.

The elimination of lead paint will contribute to the achievement of the following Sustainable Development Goal targets: By 2030 substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination; and 12. By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.