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Illnesses
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     Lead is a heavy metal. Small amounts of it can be found in air, soil, and water. It finds its way into many products, such as paint. For kids who are at higher risk for lead poisoning, doctors may order blood tests to check for lead. Why? Lead is toxic to everyone, but children can be especially harmed by lead poisoning. Children at age one may be tested for lead exposure. Depending on the results, they may be retested at age two and every year until they are six. 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 paint, construction materials, and in batteries. It can be found in soil and water. Thousands of years ago, grape juice was boiled in lead pots to make a sweetener called sapa. Sapa was used to sweeten foods and drinks. More recently, 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. 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. Children who are at greatest risk live in older homes.
 
3     Younger children and unborn babies are the most susceptible to lead poisoning because their bodies are smaller and their brains are still growing. The lead may be inhaled, swallowed, or even absorbed through the skin. When this happens, it goes into the body like other harmless minerals do. However, instead of helping like iron, calcium, or zinc do, lead causes harm. In the bloodstream, it hurts red blood cells and affects how much oxygen they can carry. In the bones, it replaces the calcium the bones need. Acute toxicity is the exposure to high levels of lead in a short time. 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 drinks, it was noticed that many became sick after drinking it.

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