How to Get Unleaded?
My son has lead poisoning. What will the treatment be?
Lead poisoning in fetuses and young children is a serious problem in the United States. Even low-level lead exposure can cause hyperactivity, learning disabilities, and growth problems over time. High-level poisoning can reduce intelligence, cause severe retardation, and even lead to death. It's very important to test for lead in young children because they are so susceptible to its effects, particularly as their brains develop. Plus, there is so much lead in the environment that it is easy for them to get exposed. If your drinking water contains more than 10 parts per billion of lead, you will consume enough of this heavy metal to do harm.
The most common sources of lead are water from lead pipes, flakes of lead paint in the dirt around homes, lead glazes on pottery, and lead from older processing equipment and fuels that ends up in canned vegetables. Get rid of all known sources of lead. You should find out what your pipes are made of and get your water tested for lead content. Or you can purchase a home purifying system that will remove lead and other heavy metals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that every child under age six be tested for lead poisoning.
Generally, I recommend two precautions to reduce the chance of ingesting lead from household water. First, let the water run from the tap for three to five minutes after any period of nonuse. Second, don't draw water from the hot tap - even for cooking - because hot water leaches out impurities much more readily than cold, and because it is likely to have sat for long periods in the hot-water tank. In fact, no matter what your pipes are made of, water from the hot tap is unfit for human consumption.
If you detect lead poisoning early, there are ways to counter it. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians recommends a nutritional approach. The antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and E, plus selenium, can help detoxify the body and protect nervous tissue from damage. Zinc and vitamin C help reduce harm from the lead, and vitamin A may counter infections that lead-poisoned children tend to suffer. It also suggests a regimen of herbs and sulfur-containing amino acids to detoxify the liver.
If lead poisoning is confirmed, I would be inclined to go for the conventional treatment: chelation therapy. Injected or oral chelating agents bond with lead, allowing the child to excrete the metal in his or her urine. The newest oral medicine is Succimer, or DMSA. The treatment normally lasts 19 days and should go no longer than 3 weeks. Side effects of chelation therapy can include rash, nausea, and a loss of appetite, but the benefits of getting the lead out are much greater than the risks of therapy.
I'll talk more about home water-purifying systems next week.