Lead is a chemical element in the carbon group and atomic number 82. If it is ingested or inhaled, its compounds are poisonous to humans and animals. Lead is a neurotoxin that accumulates both in soft tissues and the bones, damaging the nervous system and causing brain disorders including cancers. Lead poisoning has been documented since ancient Rome, ancient Greece, and ancient China.
Lead is a chemical element in the carbon group and atomic number 82. If it is ingested or inhaled, its compounds are poisonous to humans and animals. Lead is a neurotoxin that accumulates both in soft tissues and the bones, damaging the nervous system and causing brain disorders including cancers. Lead poisoning has been documented since ancient Rome, ancient Greece, and ancient China.1
Where is it found?
Lead is often used for building construction, bullets, weights, fusible alloys, and radiation shields. Oftentimes, the crude substance is found all around us in our environment—air, soil, water, and even inside our homes (e.g., lead-based paints). Most recently, it has been in the news because of the water contamination in Flint, Michigan, where the lead had leached from the infrastructure pipes into the potable water.
The most common ways humans and pets are exposed to lead is from gasoline, paint, ceramics, pipes, batteries, plumbing materials, and even cosmetics. If you lived in or near a mining town, that could also increase your level of exposure to lead as the waste generated from the mining causes an increased exposure which poses a threat to human health. The town of Leadville, Colorado is continually dealing with the aftermath of mining from a century ago. The soil in most backyards shows contamination to lead. A 1991 LATimes.com article stated that many residents were concerned about the elevated amount of lead showing in blood work in school-age children citing a 1989 study that found that Leadville schoolchildren had 65 percent more lead in their blood than children in Denver, 80 miles to the east.2 EPA officials believe there are 2,000 mine waste dumps around the town and the lead-saturated remains of at least 16 smelters.2
In addition to our environment, we can also be exposed to lead from some of our favorite hobbies. Lead is found in stained glass, fishing sinkers, dyes and glazes in pottery, as well as at shooting ranges.
|Items to Avoid||Replacement|
|Lead-Based Paint||Updated, earth-friendly latex paints|
|Cosmetics||Organic, mineral-based cosmetics|
|Inexpensive Metal Jewelry||Avoid or purchase higher quality|
|Some crystal glassware (Made in China)||Avoid or purchase higher quality|
|Contaminated Soil||Call EPA to test soil so you know contaminants|
|Lead Plumbing Pipes||PVC pipes|
|Tainted Water||Bottled water or RO system|
How would that end up in my pet?
A few of the most obvious way for your pet to have high lead levels would be from contamination from its surrounding living environment. These contaminants could be from water, paint chips, or living in an areas dealing with the aftermath of mining where it could be inhaled, ingested, or even absorbed through the skin channels and foot pads.
Why should I be concerned?
Lead poisoning can cause anemia, stomach ailments and learning problems. A recent study by a Boston doctor showed that children with high levels of lead in their blood are six times more likely to have reading disabilities.2
Lead affects every body system while having an affinity to settle within the bones. Lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects the neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal systems. Chronic exposure often causes hematological effects, such as anemia, or neurological disturbances, including headache, irritability, lethargy, convulsions, muscle weakness, ataxia, tremors, and paralysis. Acute exposures may cause gastrointestinal complains, hepatic and renal damage, hypertension, and neurological effects that may cause convulsions and death.3
Common symptoms with pet’s include4:
- Poor Appetite
- Abdominal Pain
- Hysteria, Extreme Anxiety
- Bone Cancer
How do I find out if my pet has high amounts of lead?
Similar to our children who are affected, you should be able to find out if your pet has elevated levels of lead by having a full panel blood work completed by a licensed veterinarian. Also, you could submit a hair analysis to also confirm elevated heavy metal poisoning.
What can I do?
It is best to find the source of contamination so you can eliminate that from your home or environment. Once you have found the source, the lead consumption will stop immediately so the body does not ingest any more lead to store. Next, you must find a protocol to help the body eliminate the lead. All channels of elimination must be open before you begin a detoxification protocol. Finding where the lead is being stored in the body may determine the best way to detoxify the body. Alpha lipoic acid is very beneficial to grab hold of heavy metals and eliminate them from the body through the intestinal pathway. Other natural remedies to eliminate toxins from the body are with the use of cilantro and chlorella. Last but not least, we can’t forget about bentonite clay, which has an affinity to also grab onto heavy metals and remove them through elimination.
It would be best to work alongside a naturopath to help guide you through the use of heavy metal detoxification and to determine the supplement program that is best for you or your pet.
3 – “Guidelines for Measuring Lead in Blood Using Point of Care Instruments” by Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention, October 24, 2013