Lead Poisoning

Plumbism Meaning

Plumbism is a disease caused by metal poisoning. This is also called Lead Poisoning, as lead metal is the cause of this disease. Those who have more exposure to this metal are prone to take up this disease. Plumbism is estimated to be observed in 1 out of 40 children of age group 1 to 5. Lead poisoning symptoms commonly include abdominal pain, headaches, memory problems, constipation, tingling in the head and feet, infertility, and irritability. It can result in behavioral problems as well as mental disability up to 10%. Some effects can be permanent, and in severe cases, one can observe seizures, anemia, coma, or even death


Reason for Plumbism Disease

Plumbism disease can happen to those exposed to contaminated water, air, food, dust, or other consumer products. As mentioned above, children are at higher risk as they try to put everything in the mouth. If there is some object with lead paint, then there is a possibility that they may absorb a higher quantity of the lead out of that object. Parents must be exceptionally watchful while they leave children to play on the floor or outdoors. 


Another set of people at risk are those at jobs around the place where lead is used as material in manufacturing. Lead poisoning can be detected by testing the blood lead levels. Children with five ug/dl and adults with ten ug/dl of blood lead level detection are considered to be suffering from this disease. The good thing is that the Plumbism disease can be prevented if proper measures are taken. The measures need to combine social and official efforts like 

  • Removing lead-containing items from home.

  • Improved ventilation and monitoring at the workplace. 

  • Ban the use of lead.

  • National policies to ban lead-containing products like gasoline, paint, wheel weights, ammunition, and fishing weights. These efforts will reduce the levels of lead in water and soil.

  • Clean up the contaminated soil.

Usually, chelation therapy is used to remove the lead contaminants from the body, including removing sources of lead and meditations that bind lead. When blood lead levels in children go as high as 40-50 ug/dl, chelation therapy is recommended. Meditations include edetate calcium disodium, succimer, and dimercaprol. In 2016, around 540,000 deaths were reported worldwide, which mainly occurred in developing countries. 0.6% of the world’s disease is lead poisoning. The cases arose when the mining for lead started, and many workers started getting exposed to lead contamination. 

Lead is being used for many years now, so obviously, the cases of lead poisoning also date back to 2000 BC. The limitations on the use of lead started as back as in the 16th century. Plumbism meaning can be stated in short as ‘a diseased condition, produced by the absorption of lead, common among workers in this metal or its compounds, as among painters, typesetters, etc. The symptoms include lead colic, lead line, and wrist drop. 

Classification of Plumbism 

As we have seen in Plumbism definition, lead poisoning is exposure to high levels of lead associated with major health effects. Poisoning is the toxic effect of mid to high levels of exposure. Though the terms toxicity and poisoning are similar in effects, the terms are often used interchangeably, and lead poisoning is mainly used to indicate the symptomatic effects of lead. While you define lead poisoning, you must understand that the effect of lead on health depends on the levels of lead in the blood. Very low lead contents may not harm health, so the amount of lead in the blood and tissues and exposure time determine the toxicity. 

Lead poisoning may be acute or chronic. Chronic is more common, and treatment is based on the level of lead in blood or tissues. Sometimes urine lead levels also may be used to determine the toxicity but very rarely. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have mentioned that the level of 10 ug/dl or above is serious, which may result in impaired development and affect health badly even at lower levels. The efforts are being taken to prevent any exposure to the lead because, to date, the actual risk level is not confirmed. Lead poisoning can happen even in the low concentration exposure area. 


Signs and Symptoms 

As described in the plumbism definition, various symptoms can develop, varying from person to person. Symptoms are not specific and even may not show in some individuals, even at a high level. Usually, they develop over some time as the level goes on building up. Due to exposure to organic lead, the symptoms are delirium, insomnia, tremor, cognitive deficit, hallucinations, and convulsions. Other symptoms in adults are memory loss, kidney failure, headache, abdominal pain, weakness, etc. 

In acute poisoning, symptoms like pain, muscle weakness, numbness, and tingling are associated. Some may also have weight loss, constipation, and diarrhea. In chronic poisoning, one may have gastrointestinal, neuromuscular, and nervous system-related symptoms. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1: Define Lead Poisoning?

Ans: Exposure to the toxic metal lead may result in severe health issues as the metal is heavily hazardous and causes various diseases. To define lead poisoning, one must know why it could occur. In children, it can occur as often they try to put objects in their mouth that might have lead content. The habitual absorption happens unknowingly, and children get exposed to lead poisoning. In adults, if their workplace is around the source of lead mining, then the risk is much higher. Such workers can quickly get entangled in lead poisoning. 

Q2: What is the Effect of Lead Poisoning on Children?

Ans: Even before birth, the children are at risk of high lead levels if a pregnant woman has lead levels higher. While growing, the small bodies of children are in a state of continuous growth, and hence they have a much higher risk of lead poisoning as they consume 4 to 5 times more lead than adults from a given source. Additionally, they are more in touch with the ground for crawling or learning to walk in this period. This leads them to get exposed to the dust on the floor and ground, which might contain a higher lead amount.