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Lead Poisoning



Lead Poisoning
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.23

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    behavioral, biological, colic, comas, helping, irritability, lead-based, retested, susceptible, unharmful, bloodstream, banned, difficulty, commonly, exposure, coordination
     content words:    United States


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Lead Poisoning
By Jennifer Kenny
  

1     Children at age one are tested for lead exposure; then they are retested at age two. Why? Lead is toxic to everyone, but children can be especially harmed by lead poisoning. Sometimes symptoms are not noticeable, so the test is done as a precaution.
 
2     Lead is a naturally occurring metal. It can be found in construction materials and in batteries. Thousands of years ago, it was even used to sweeten wine. Most commonly, lead has been found in older homes where it was used in lead-based paint in the United States until the late 1970s. Today it has been banned because of its danger. Other sources of lead include contaminated soil near busy streets where gas that once contained lead might have been found. In some older homes, water may come through old lead pipes. Sometimes food is served in homes in bowls that have been painted with lead. Finally, some older folk remedies include lead. These exposures are dangerous. Obviously, then, the children who are at greatest risk live in older homes or come from other countries.
 
3     Younger children and unborn babies are the most susceptible to absorbing lead and retaining it in their smaller, growing bodies. The lead may be inhaled, swallowed, or less likely, absorbed through the skin. When this happens, it goes through the body like other unharmful minerals do. However, instead of helping when it lands like iron, calcium, or zinc, it is harmful. For example, in the bloodstream it hurts red blood cells and affects how much oxygen they can carry. In the bone, it can interfere with the calcium the bones need. Thus, this lead exposure is so poisonous. Acute toxicity is the exposure to high levels of lead in a short time while chronic toxicity is the exposure to small amounts of lead over a long time. Even thousands of years ago when lead was used to sweeten wine, it was noticed that many became colic when drinking it.

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