Updated: Jan 26
I started learning from Andy's writing way back when I first came to chelation.
I began my quest for information on the topic of lead for my oldest who was affected by 7 months of living in old 1950ies housing as a toddler.
No, I did not let him eat paint chips. The toxic dust around windows and door frames was enough to stop his developmental progress and weight gain. The exposure also caused infertility for my husband and I. Little did we know at the time that both male and female infertility are also consequences of lead exposure for adults. No one gets through the lead-dust unscathed! :(
So let's start with potential exposure routes and medical testing options.
Housing built & occupied before lead paint for indoor use was outlawed; this varies for different countries. In the USA lead paint production for indoor paint was outlawed in 1978, in the UK it was outlawed in 1997. This number may differ for your country of origin or residence. I mention country of origin because a mother's lead exposure growing up is passed on in-utero to the developing fetus.
Lead service lines, the pipes bringing water to your home, as well as piping inside the home may be lead pipes depending on the age of the infrastructure and home itself. And if the pipe itself is not a lead pipe, lead solder may still have been used.
The Environmental Working group, a US based non-profit organization, has compiled a database that lists detailed water testing data organied by zip code: Finding lead in this listing will give you actionable information: ewg.org/tapwater/
For most individuals I have come in contact with and learned from, their dwellings form a part of their own or their children's exposure to lead; typically in the form of dust from paint that was rubbed off around windows or door frames. Lead dust particles inhaled are absorbed at a high rate. Young children (age 0 to 5) absorb more lead given the same exposure because their skeletons are still actively building up bone density.
Lead is treated as a bio-equivalent of calcium, so it is shuttled along the same metabolic pathways as calcium in our bodies. Keep this in mind, when we talk about chelation later on, as the bio-equivalency will be a helpful factor.
Renovations of lead containing buildings:
For some it is an occupational hazard or they expose themselves during DIY home renovations. For example, when striping paint of siding with torches toxic lead fumes are created, while falling dust and paint chips can contaminate the soil surrounding a house for years to come, if soil isn't removed and replaced.
Moving back after professional renovations can leave families exposed to the particles that ended up contaminating the soil around the house. And where do most small children play? Close to home! One option is to add more topsoil or mulch to cover the lead dust in the soil. And don't garden close to a building that has or had laid paint on it's exterior! Being a heavy metal means that the individual particles persist for decades to come.
Other common exposure routes to lead include:
Mardi Gras beads The Toxic Truth Behind Mardi Gras Beads | Science | Smithsonian Magazine,
& house or car keys are often mouthed by babies and young children.
Lead Crystal is leaded glass. Lead is leached out by acids in the wine poured into leaded decanters and leaded wine glasses.
Another place lead may lurk: tiffany glass set with lead,
corroded vehicle battery terminals,
Aviation (AV) gas used for piston engines, where it is a thus far irreplaceable additive that boosts the octane rating Fact Sheet – Leaded Aviation Fuel and the Environment (faa.gov)
Electric soldering flux (fortunately lead free solder is available these days),
fishing weights (lead free options exist here as well),
pouring lead bullets & shooting in poorly ventilated indoor gun ranges without proper PPE,
Lead was also used as a pesticide in orchards, so even organic converted orchard run off can still affect areas around it and crops sprayed with lead arsenate decades ago may still produce contaminated crops.
I hope by now you realize what a wide-spread, persistent and often underestimated problem lead poses.
Medical tests pertaining to lead toxicity:
Blood Lead level (BLL)
BLL monitors current exposure and tracks progress after remediation. If exposures are long in the past (years ago), results will come back below detection limit.
Free erythrocyte protoporphyrin
ALA-D (aminolevulinic acid dehydratase)
Effects indicate a rare genetic defect or lead exposure impacting heme synthesis.
creatinine (Included in OAT testing)
And Andy answering a parents numerous questions about lead can be found here:
Next week I will discuss symptoms and how to address lead with low dose frequent chelation.