Lead exposure in children


Lead is a naturally occurring heavy metal, often used in industry. It can be dispersed widely in the environment through contamination of water, dust, soil, and paints.

Young children are most at risk from lead. Lead exposure can affect a child’s mental and physical development.

Lead can affect anyone, but children under five years of age are at greater risk as they tend to put their hands or other objects into their mouths resulting in absorbing more ingested lead than adults. As their brains are still developing they are more sensitive to the effects of lead.

Children are exposed to lead from paint when lead-contaminated paint on painted surfaces begins to chip or deteriorate causing lead to be released into the environment. Lead exposure is harmful to children at a much lower level compared to adults. In addition children absorbs up to 5 times as much as ingested lead than adults.

When a young child is exposed to lead, it harms the nervous system resulting in the child to have learning difficulties. It is also linked to increased rates of hyperactivity, inattentiveness, juvenile delinquency and drug use. The impact of lead exposure on children continues throughout life and has a long–term impact on the child work performance and is related to decrease economic success.