Lead is a soft metal that has known many applications over the years.
It has been used widely since 5000 BC for application in metal products, cables and pipelines, but also in paints and pesticides.
Lead is one out of four metals that have the most damaging effects on human health.
It can enter the human body through uptake of food (65%), water (20%) and air (15%).
Foods such as fruit, vegetables, meats, grains, seafood, soft drinks and wine may contain significant amounts of lead. Cigarette smoke also contains small amounts of lead.
Lead can enter (drinking) water through corrosion of pipes.
This is more likely to happen when the water is slightly acidic.
That is why public water treatment systems are now required to carry out pH-adjustments in water that will serve drinking purposes.
For as far as we know, lead fulfils no essential function in the human body, it can merely do harm after uptake from food, air or water.
Lead can cause several unwanted effects, such as:
- Disruption of the biosynthesis of haemoglobin and anaemia
- A rise in blood pressure
- Kidney damage
- Miscarriages and subtle abortions
- Disruption of nervous systems
- Brain damage
- Declined fertility of men through sperm damage
- Diminished learning abilities of children
- Behavioural disruptions of children, such as aggression, impulsive behavior and hyperactivity
Lead can enter a foetus through the placenta of the mother. Because of this it can cause serious damage to the nervous system and the brains of unborn children.