Lead, which is a metal, has a symbol of Pb that originated from Latin word Plumbum. Lead is a toxic metal that was used in many products such as painted toys and storage batteries. It can also be found in contaminated soil, household dust and drinking water in homes that contained pipes that were connected with lead solder.
By inhaling air, drinking water or touching or swallowing dirt that contains lead can lead to lead poisoning.Lead poisoning can cause many health problems. In adults, lead can increase blood pressure which in turn leads to nerve disorders.It is especially harmful to children. Children who take in huge amounts of lead can cause anemia, muscle weakness and brain damage.This is because lead can inhibit the production of heamoglobin which is needed by human bodies in transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide. Insufficient amount of oxygen in brain can cause brain damage.
As quoted from Bloomberg News, July 2010, excessive levels of lead was found in the blood of 84 children in the county of Heqing, Yunnan, China, due to illegal gold processing operations. The children were diagnosed after the local environmental protection department cracked down on operations that used Cyanide to extract gold from ore in the county. Rising of gold prices had encourage the villagers in the county to begin processing ore in their homes, which then generated lead fumes and poisonous solid waste. More than 4000 poeple in China were poisoned by lead in 2009 and more than 2000 of them were children. China largest lead maker in Henan, Henan Yuguang Gold and Lead Co had closed an outdated plant in October 2009 due to the excessive level of lead found in 1800 of children in the province.
An important way to prevent lead poisoning is to discourage children from eating or chewing on food that may contain lead such as keys, paint chips, lead sinkers used for fishing and lead soldier. Besides, children should be encouraged to wash their hands often, especially before eating and after playing. Food can become contaminated with lead. So, to prevent exposure to lead, avoid eating foods that are cooked or stored in imported pottery. Always wash fruits and vegetables before eating them as they may have lead on them if they were grown in lead contaminated soil.