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Lead (Pb) – Main Sources And Effects To Human Health & Environment

Lead (Pb) pollution is a prevalent issue that receives much attention currently. How does it affect our lives, and how can we solve it? Let's discover.

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Nowadays, lead (Pb) is mainly involved in battery manufacturing and industrial processes. People are taking advantage of it for a wide range of purposes. Despite its vital applications, Pb is undeniably toxic to the environment and human health.

Let’s dig in and figure out some harmful effects of lead, as well as some useful ways to avoid exposure to this toxic metal.

lead (Pb)
lead (Pb)

What Is Lead (Pb)?

Lead is a hazardous metal found in the planet’s crust or in the ores of iron, silver, and copper. It is a non-biodegradable and chemical-resistant metal. It bears a silvery color with a trace of blue as it is cut. When exposed to the air, it turns to a light gray color.

Lead poisoning is considered one of the causes of air pollution with fatal consequences for humans (see definition of air pollution). Because of its toxicity, the metal must be handled and disposed of carefully, with as little human contact as possible.

Sources Of Lead

Lead is produced when Pb-containing materials are burned through the smelting and recycling process. Lead, especially tetraethyl lead, also comes from PB-based paint or gasoline.

Pb-contaminated dust or water is another source. If the vessel is covered with this toxic metal, it may stick to the food. Leaded pipes might also be a cause of lead-contaminated drinking water.

The outdated playground equipment could be one of the sources of lead in the environment. This metal can leak from underground storage facilities or be involved in the regeneration of lead-acid batteries.

Several industries, such as metal mining or melting, are other common sources. Dust and smoke from municipal trash combustors also contribute to serious Pb pollution. Moreover, low Pb levels can be discovered in children’s toys and jewelry.

Sources Of Lead
Sources Of Lead

Effects Of Lead 

Ecosystem

Increased lead levels in the environment can slow the progression of plant and animal growth. Pb pollution has exceeded air quality standards, causing reproductive problems and negatively affecting the invertebrate nervous system in animals. 

Lead contamination on the leaves’ surface will limit the quantity of light that reaches them. The holes in leaves allow carbon dioxide to enter and oxygen to escape, which is necessary for the process of photosynthesis. Because of the poor rate of this process, the Pb covering can kill plants.

For animals, it may directly affect the population’s genetics. Animals’ neurological systems are affected by PB, which impairs their capacity to generate red blood cells. Most animals will die if exposed to it over a long period.

The ingestion of airborne lead directly affects grazing animals, reducing the lifespan of these species. 

After five days of taking this toxic metal for waterfowl, they will have a circulatory disorder. The poison will severely damage most organs such as the heart, liver, and intestine. After 17 days, the animals will die. 

Another common concern is: Air pollution lead greenhouse effect. In fact, Pb is not a greenhouse gas, so it won’t directly contribute to this phenomenon.

Human Health

Lead enters the body through the bloodstream and accumulates in the fractures after being ingested. It can damage the neurological system and immune system. It will lower the development process of humans and cause several problems related to cardiovascular.

The oxygen holding capacity of the blood is also deteriorated by lead exposure. Lead poisoning is particularly harmful to babies and young children. Specifically, it can cause behavioral issues, learning disabilities, and IQ decline.

Exposure to a low PB level can make people fatigued, suffer from headaches, or reduce their memory. High amounts of lead poisoning can cause anemia, diarrhea, and brain damage. Besides, it may be fatal in excessive doses.

Since this toxic metal may pass through the intrauterine barrier, pregnant women exposed to PB may negatively impact their infants. Particularly, the neural system of babies can be affected in the longer term. 

Even at a low rate, Pb exposure could impair behavior and IQ in growing children. Lead poisoning can result in abortion and infertility in both men and women.

lead poisoning
lead poisoning

Ways To Reduce Your Exposure To Lead

Tidy Up Your House Regularly

Tidy up your house regularly is one of the most useful ways to protect you and your family from lead exposure. It can lower the amount of Pb in air and dust. We can use a wet cleaning approach to clean floors, windows, and other equipment in your house.

As children are more vulnerable to lead poisoning than adults, you should wash their toys carefully. Moreover, it is necessary to regularly wash their hands and faces, especially after playing or eating.

Maintain Good Hygiene

It would be best if you kept the habit of body hygiene when returning home after playing and working outside. Traditional treatments and some cosmetics should be limited. Don’t use a conventional cure or cosmetic if you’re not certain whether it includes Pb or not.

Promote A Healthy Diet

Maintaining an iron- and protein-rich meal can help to minimize your Pb intake. You should keep a low-fat diet and eat more vegetables, peanuts, and fruits packed with vitamin C.

Several kinds of foods can prevent the accumulation of Pb in your body. Cereals and bread can be included in your breakfast. Besides, tofu and dried fruits will provide you with calcium and other nutritions.

A small tip for you to store food or drink is to avoid using containers that contain lead. This metal can leak into foods and cause food poisoning. Therefore, you should avoid food storage boxes that contain PB, such as glass-clay containers or pottery cans.

Promote A Healthy Diet
Promote A Healthy Diet

Conclusion

We have just discovered some sources and detrimental effects of lead (Pb) to the environment and human health. Lead poisoning can cause several serious impacts on our lives and could have devastating consequences in the long run.

We believe that you have known how to avoid exposure to this toxic metal to protect you and your family from it through this article. I appreciate your interest in this post, and see you soon in the next one!

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