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Can You Get Lead Poisoning From Water?

Monday, August 22, 2016 10:11 AM

Every day we turn our faucets on for cooking, bathing and drinking water – but we might not always think about what is in that water. With the recent news covering the testing of water for lead in schools within the suburbs and city of Chicago, we may be giving more thought to our water.

Lead, a naturally occurring element, is found in the air, soil, water and even in our homes. When our bodies absorb too much lead – known as lead poisoning – it can greatly impact and damage our health.

Julie Holland, MD, Pediatrics at NorthShore, helps us understand why elevated levels of lead in our drinking water and through exposure from other sources such as paints, toys and pottery can be warrant for concern, especially in developing children. Lead poisoning can occur in anyone, but kids are more likely to be affected.

Individuals with lead poisoning often do not show any signs of sickness from lead ingestion. When there are symptoms of lead poisoning, they often are:

  • Behavioral problems
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Pale skin
  • Metallic taste in the mouth

Many of these symptoms can also be indicators of other illnesses. At NorthShore, our pediatricians follow the guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics for lead poisoning. These guidelines state that a blood test should be done if children fall into high-risk groups. Children between the ages of 6 months to six years old are at the highest risk. Children in a low risk group can be screened by a questionnaire and depending on the results may or may not need blood testing. If you suspect you and your child may have lead poisoning, please reach out to your physician for more information.

What changes have you made to minimize lead in your home?