Guest Author - Carolyn Chambers Clark, RN, EdD
What are the dangers of lead exposure?
Lead is one of the most toxic metal contaminants known. It accumulates in the body and is absorbed directly from the blood into other tissues. It is stored in the bones and continues to build up over a lifetime. Lead from the bones can reenter the bloodstream during times of biologic stress including pregnancy, menopause, kidney failure, or prolonged immobilization or illness. Lead is a metabolic poison that inhibits basic enzyme functions. Lead exposure can cause serious health problems, including lower IQs in children, brain, liver, heart, nervous system and kidney damage in adults. Although health experts agree that no amount of lead in drinking water is considered safe, there is some dispute about how much tainted water has to be consumed to cause permanent damage. Because the effect is cumulative, lead in water is particularly problematic in older, urban areas where children are more likely to also be exposed to lead paint, which utilities note is a more prevalent threat.
How protected are you and your loved ones from the dangers of lead?
According to an article in the Washington Post by Staff Writers Carol Leonnig, Jo Becker and David Nakamura, many cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Seattle, Washington DC, Detroit, Lansing MI, Portland, OR, Ridgewood, NJ and other communities in northern New Jersey, Providence, RI, and Seattle are covering up dangerous levels of lead pollution in water supplies and they are being assisted by the EPA, which is not enforcing drinking water regulations. Additionally, lead is leaching into water supplies from customer's own fixtures. Other cities, such as Kansas City Mo have worked hard to avoid lead problems.
Despite the health risk caused by lead in water, efforts to eliminate it have run up against other realities, including the high cost of replacing underground pipes that contain lead. Recognizing that states lacked the resources to carefully monitor more than 90 contaminants covered by federal law, the EPA issued lists of priorities starting in 1996. In both cases, its top concern was microbes, which can sicken large populations overnight. Lead did not make the list, and this year, the EPA dropped drinking water altogether from its enforcement priority list, records show. The EPA agency cannot be faulted entirely, it has only 72 enforcement employees to oversee the nation's drinking water laws -- one employee for every 2,238 water systems.
What are other sources of lead?
Sources of lead exposure include lead-based paints, ceramic glazes, lead crystal dishes and glassware, leaded gasoline, lead-acid car batteries, tobacco, liver, some domestic and imported wines, canned fruit in lead-soldered cans, vegetables grown in lead-contaminated soil, bone meal, and insecticides, vinyl mini-blinds, and porcelain-glazed sinks.
How can you protect yourself from lead exposure?
There are many things you can do to protect yourself from lead exposure.
1. Purchase a reverse osmosis filtration system to filter out harmful contaminants from your drinking water or purchase steam distilled water in the grocery store and use only that water to drink, for cooking and to brush your teeth.
2. Purchase a filter for your shower(s) to protect you from lead exposure through your skin, nose and mouth.
3. Don't eat fruit in lead-soldered cans.
4. Eat organic vegetables as much as possible.
5. Avoid as much as possible lead-acid car batteries.
6. Avoid using ceramic glazes or items with ceramic glazes.
7. Avoid smoking or being around tobacco smoke.
8. Avoid lead crystal dishes and glassware.
9. Avoid eating animal livers.
10. Use curtains or drapes, not vinyl mini-blinds
11. Avoid porcelain-glazed sinks and bathtubs.
12. Eat apples. The pectin in them binds toxins and metals, allowing them to be removed from the body.
13. Eat 2,000 mg of calcium citrate or chelate a day in divided doses with l,000 mg magnesium chelate. The two minerals work together and prevent lead from being deposited in body tissues. Avoid cow's milk or cow's milk products, which can contain lead.
14. Use garlic powder in cooking and/or take 2 garlic (Kyolic) tablets 3 times daily with meals.
15. Use kelp as a seasoning and in soups, salads and stews. It removes unwanted lead from the body.
16. Use lecithin granules (made from soybeans) in blender drinks, soups, or stews to protect cell membranes.
17. Take vitamin B-complex l00 mg 3 times a day with meals to enhance cell enzyme function and help remove lead from the brain. Eat foods high in B-vitamins (brown rice, egg yolks,fish, legumes, peanuts, peas, wheat germ, whole grain breads and cereals, oatmeal, plums,broccoli, Brussels sprouts, most nuts, prunes, raisins, watercress, asparagus, avocados, currants, dandelion greens, carrots, corn, potatoes, wheat germ, parsley, spinach, bananas, blackstrap molasses, cabbage, cantaloupe, plantains, soybeans and soybean products such as tempeh, mushrooms, oranges, split peas, tuna.)
18. Take 400 mg of vitamin E daily and increase slowly to 800 IU for 2 months to protect cells from damage due to lead poisoning.
19. Eat legumes (peanuts, dried peas and beans), eggs, onions and garlic to rid the body of lead.
20. Drink ½ cup of aloe vera juice or gel (health food store item) in the morning and before bedtime to aid in removing metals from the digestive tract.
21. Avoid turning plastic bags with printing on the outside inside out and using them to store food. The ink may have lead in it.
22. If you drink wine, wipe the mouth of the bottle well inside and out with a damp cloth before pouring the beverage. Foil wrappers around the corks of wine bottles can deposit lead around the mouth of the bottle.
Balch and Balch, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Avery Publishing Company, 1997.
This article is for information. Consult your health care practitioner for treatment.
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