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Natural Awakenings Space & Treasure Coast Florida

The Low-down on Lead Exposure

Apr 07, 2011 05:12PM ● By Dr. Kevin Kilday, PhD, CNC

The toy industry has recalled over 10 million Chinese made toys containing lead and lead based paint. This recall has left parents concerned about their children’s exposure to this dangerous heavy metal, and with just cause, only a tiny amount of lead is needed to harm a young, growing child. Children like to put their hands, toys, and other things in their mouths. Ingestion is the most common route of exposure to lead for children, and the route that most commonly leads to illness.

Lead, especially long-term, low-level exposure affects virtually every system in the body and is especially damaging to the kidneys and central nervous system. The effects of low-level exposure are often subtle initially, but they are progressive and irreversible – creating learning and behavior problems that may never be definitively associated with exposure years before conditions manifest. Overall lead has been shown to be responsible for lower IQ scores, emotional disturbances, nervousness, anemia, anxiety, epilepsy, headache, convulsions, hair loss, and loss of appetite.

It's difficult to identify exposure to lead because lead and other toxic metals lodge deep within tissues and organs. A physician ordered blood test will frequently be normal in spite of chronic lead toxicity. This occurs because lead is deposited in storage organs and tissues so only minimal levels of lead remain in the blood therefore a blood test will not be accurate.

Tissue tests such as hair mineral analysis are more useful for detecting chronic lead toxicity because lead is quickly removed from the blood and stored away in tissues such as hair. Concentrations of lead in hair are often ten times greater than in blood and consequently are easier and more accurately measured.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency reviewed over 400 reviews of the use of hair for toxic metal detection and concluded that: "Hair is a meaningful and representative tissue for (biological monitoring for) antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, vanadium and perhaps selenium and tin."

The author of a study of lead toxicity in Massachusetts school children, Dr. R. Tuthill, concluded: "Scalp hair should be considered a useful clinical and epidemiological approach for the measurement of chronic low-level lead exposure in children."

Dr. Kevin Kilday, PhD, CNC offers hair tissue mineral analysis testing for 11 minerals and 9 toxic elements.