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Lead is a very strong poison. When a person swallows a lead object or breathes in lead dust, some of the poison can stay in the body and cause serious health problems.
Lead used to be very common in gasoline and house paint in the U.S. Children living in cities with older houses are more likely to have high levels of lead.
Although gasoline and paint are no longer made with lead in them, lead is still a health problem. Lead is everywhere, including dirt, dust, new toys, and old house paint. Unfortunately, you can't see, taste, or smell lead.
Lead is found in:
Children get lead in their bodies when they put lead objects in their mouths, especially if they swallow the lead object. They can also get lead poison on their fingers from touching a dusty or peeling lead object, and then putting their fingers in their mouths or eating food afterward. Children also can breathe in tiny amounts of lead.
Woolf AD, Goldman R, Bellinger DC. Update on the clinical management of childhood lead poisoning. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2007;54:271-294.
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