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Chemistry LibreTexts

Background: Why Lead?

Lead contamination of drinking water is a major global problem. Acute lead poisoning in children can cause anorexia, vomiting, malaise, convulsions and even, permanent brain damage. Chronic lead poisoning can cause weight loss, weakness and anemia. Lead can leach into water from either solder used to join copper pipes or from lead pipes in older buildings. Other sources of lead are paints in older buildings, and dust/soil contaminated with tetraethyl-lead (formerly a gasoline additive.)

The following websites provide information about toxicity levels of lead, how it is manifested in children, treatments and risk assessment/management. After opening the site, click “Lead Analysis” and then “Understanding Pediatric Blood Lead Levels” for a table ranging from lead levels of < μg/dL (normal to > 44 μg/dL (serious). This comprehensive article, titled, “Case Study in Environmental Medicine, Lead Toxicity.” Covers symptoms of lead in young children, blood lead toxicity levels, sources of lead, etc.’lead/htm. This is a short article that discusses the sources of lead and its clinical manifestations, toxicity levels and treatments.

http://www.epa/gov/lead/403risk.htm. This site contains the U.S. EPA’s comprehensive information regarding “Lead in Paint, Dust and Soil” and includes risk assessment, risk management and data on lead. Recommended reading for anyone interested in researching the subject.