What are the risks of lead in drinking water? - letsdiskuss
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gadiya swamy

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What are the risks of lead in drinking water?


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When the lead-containing water service pipes corrode, the lead granules get intermixed in the drinking water and reach our body. Brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures with lead solder can also be the agent of lead getting intermixed in our drinking water. The process is faster when the water is hot.

Letsdiskuss (Courtesy: Roswell Park)

The Safe Drinking Water Act has set has set the maximum contaminant level goal for lead in drinking water at zero, because of the higher levels of toxicity of the metal. The lead is so harmful a metal that its accumulation in the body can cause serious and long-term harms.

Of all, the children, fetuses, and infants are most vulnerable to the exposure of lead. The adverse effects of lead in children and infants are as follows:

• Damage to the central and peripheral nervous system.
• Learning disabilities
• Shorter stature
• Impaired hearing
• Impaired formation and function of blood cells

The level of blood in a child’s blood must be less than 5 micrograms per deciliter to save them from the above-mentioned problems.

Lower IQ and hyperactivity, slow growth, hearing problems, and anemia are some more problems that can be initiated by the exposure of lead in children.

The second most affected group is that of pregnant women. The maternal calcium that is released during pregnancy can also release lead which may have been accumulated in bones along with calcium. If the diet of the woman lacks Calcium, it is an even greater risk. Such situations can reduce the growth of the fetus and result in premature birth.

For adults, lead is harmful in the following ways:

• Cardiovascular effects
• It can increase blood pressure and hypertension
• It can lower down the functions of the kidney
• Can cause reproductive problems.


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From the  WHO guidelines from drinking water quality lead gives to many hazardous effect on human body

Children ages six and under are at the greatest risk. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid exposure to lead to protect their children. Lead can cross the placenta during pregnancy to affect the unborn child, and can be released into breast milk. Potential effects include premature births, smaller babies, decreased mental ability in the infant, learning difficulties, and reduced growth in young children. Lead exposure is most serious for young children because they absorb lead more easily than adults and are more susceptible to its harmful effects. Even low level exposure may harm the intellectual development, behaviour, size, and hearing of infants.

In babies and children, exposure to lead in drinking water above 0.015 mg/L (the Guideline for Canadian Drinking Water Quality maximum acceptable concentration for lead is 0.01 mg/L) can result in delays in physical and mental development, along with slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities. In adults, it can cause increases in blood pressure. Adults who drink this water over many years could develop kidney problems, anemia, reduced ***** count and fertility problems, and high blood pressure. There is a future risk of osteoporosis in exposed children. Symptoms of adverse effects to the nervous system, the primary target organ for lead, include forgetfulness, tiredness, headaches, changes in mood and behaviour, lower IQ, decreased hand dexterity and weakness of arms, legs, wrists, fingers or ankles.
In addition to these health effects, people who are exposed to moderate levels of lead for an extended period of time may be at a greater risk of experiencing changes in hearing ability, digestive issues (abdominal pain, cramps, nausea, vomiting, etc.), altered immune systems and changes in levels of certain hormones.
Exposure to lead over a lifetime may also increase the risk of developing cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has recently re-classified lead as probably carcinogenic to humans .


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