Lead poisoning can occur gradually over time as lead builds up in the person’s bloodstream causing serious damage to the person’s internal organs, including the kidneys. The kidneys filter the
blood of waste and toxins as it is moved through and drops the waste and toxins into the urine for disposal. The loss of these vital organs can cause serious problems for a person and even lead to their deaths.
Lead can be found naturally and in human society, particularly around industry. Burning of fossil fuels, mining, and manufacturing can result in lead released into the environment. Old house paint scrapings and dirt contaminated by years of car exhaust. Many toys made before 1976, and toys made in some foreign countries can contain lead in them. Water can be contaminated with lead from mines, bad, deteriorating pipes and waste dumps. Gasoline, too was once made with lead and most firearms ammunition are made with lead as well.
Lead-related nephrotoxicity is the terminology used by doctors and scientists to describe the damage lead can cause to the kidneys when trouble strikes. When the kidneys fail, the victim will
develop acute kidney failure, a condition where the kidneys are no longer able to filter out the blood.
When this happens waste and toxins continue to build up in the person resulting in organ damage. While it takes time for lead to build up to dangerous levels in the human body, the resulting
acute kidney failure can strike very quickly. Symptoms can include decreased urine output, fluid retention, causing swelling in the legs, ankles or feet. A person can have shortness of breath, fatigue, confusion, nausea, and weakness. They may also have an irregular heartbeat or chest pain or pressure.
And, in severe cases, seizures or go into a coma. This is in cases where symptoms are displayed. A person can have no symptoms and still be in the early stages of acute kidney failure. Lead damage, too can take a long time to show itself. Thankfully, kidney damage or acute kidney failure from lead exposure is very uncommon in the United States, causing only about 1% of all cases of kidney failure by most estimates.
When it does happen, it is in places were where workers are exposed to lead, such as stained glass artists, metal smelters, at certain factories or in the remodeling of old homes. Lead damage occurs only after years of exposure, but those most likely to be affected are those at risk for kidney disease, or already have it.
However, if children are exposed to lead they can develop brain damage and damage to other organs including the kidneys. Others who are vulnerable to lead damage include pregnant women. Human beings already of lead stored in the bones. When a woman is pregnant or nursing lead can be released from the bones into your bloodstream. Too much lead can cause several complications including miscarriage, premature birth or causing the child to be too small.
Additionally, it can damage the child’s brain, kidneys, and
nervous system and cause you child to have learning or behavior problems. Be sure to watch some of our videos for more info about how the environment can impact kidney health.