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You can reduce exposure to lead with the following steps:
Try to identify the following information:
If someone has severe symptoms from possible lead exposure (such as vomiting or seizures) call 911 immediately.
For other symptoms that you think may be caused by lead poisoning, call your local poison control center.
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the U.S. use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Except in severe cases where someone has received a high dose of lead, a trip to the emergency room is not necessary. Contact your health care provider or department of public health if you suspect possible low-level lead exposure.
A blood lead test can help identify whether a problem exists. Over 10 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) is a definite concern. Levels between 2- 10 mcg/dL should be discussed with your doctor. In many states, blood screening is recommended for young children at risk.
Other lab tests may include:
For children whose blood levels of lead are moderately high, the steps are to identify all major sources of lead exposure and keep the child away from them. Follow-up blood testing may be needed.
Chelation therapy is a procedure that can remove high levels of lead that have built up in a person's body over time.
In cases where someone has potentially eaten a high toxic dose of lead in a short period of time, the following treatments might be done:
Adults who have had mildly high lead levels often recover without problems. In children, even mild lead poisoning can have a permanent impact on attention and IQ.
People with higher lead levels have a greater risk of long-lasting health problems. They must be followed carefully.
Their nerves and muscles can be greatly affected and may no longer function as well as they should. Other body systems may be harmed to various degrees, such as the kidneys and blood vessels. People who survive toxic lead levels may have some permanent brain damage. Children are more vulnerable to serious long-term problems.
A complete recovery from chronic lead poisoning may take months to years.
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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