When it comes to poisonous materials, lead is one metal you don't want anywhere near you, let alone inside your body. Lead is a highly toxic material that can even be fatal in large doses. Even small amounts of lead can have devastating effects that can potentially last a lifetime, including organ damage. Lead can affect both the brain and other essential parts of the body. Just like mercury, you should immediately seek medical attention if you get into contact or digest lead. Find out the effects of lead poisoning.



Consuming lead can have dangerous effects on blood because it limits red blood cell's ability to carry oxygen. Anemia is a condition where the blood doesn't contain enough hemoglobin which is vital to supply the body with nutrients and minerals. Lead can compromise hemoglobin production and distribution, therefore causing a range of symptoms to develop include weakness and pale skin. In severe cases, anemia can prove fatal, so it's crucial to ensure hemoglobin levels stay at average values. To test for hemoglobin, you can get a blood test at home or the hospital. Results are nearly immediate.

anemia lead poisoning

Cardiovascular Disease

Exposure to even the smallest amounts of lead can cause problems affecting the cardiovascular system. It does so in many ways, including increased blood pressure. If the dosage is high enough, lead can cause blood to fluctuate at an unsafe speed. As blood flows through the veins and arteries, dangerous lead molecules are transported to different parts of the body, including organs like the brain and kidneys. If treatment isn't commenced at an early stage, the organs can suffer long-lasting damage which may be irreversible. If you ingest lead, immediately contact your nearest poison control center.

disease lead poisoning

Decreased Cognitive Ability

One of the most harmful effects of lead is the damage it inflicts on the brain, reducing the cognitive ability and lowering concentration levels. Adults are somewhat more resilient to lead, but children are very much prone to brain damage as a result of consuming lead. Some sources of lead include water, soil, and even the air around you. That's why children that grow up in poor areas are more likely to experience hampered mental development as compared to those who live in lead-free surroundings. You can take steps to reduce lead exposure, for example by avoiding products that may contain it.

cognitive lead poisoning

Delayed Development

A potentially devastating consequence of lead is that it can cause slower and reduced levels of development - both mental and physical. This is especially true for children because they are not able to cope the same way adults are to lead. Moreover, as their bodies develop, they need healthy organs that ensure proper growth. Lead can be found in various products including paint and even children's toys. That's why you should exercise caution with the products you allow your children to use. Remember to get annual check-ups to look for symptoms of lead in the body.

development issues from lead poisoning

Violent Crime

Lead causes a variety of symptoms that affect both the brain and the body, but its effects expand all the way to the community. There have been a few studies that have shown a relationship between lead exposure and the amount of violent crime. This correlation is thought to be caused by a lack of proper regulation regarding food and environment. Fortunately, in recent decades governments have stepped up their efforts to regulate the harmful effects of lead better. Lead may also cause behavioral issues and other imbalances.

crime lead poisoning


One potentially damaging effect of lead is pregnancy complications, which can affect both the mother and the fetus. If a pregnant woman has a high concentration of lead in the body, they are potentially jeopardizing the health of their newborn. It may be complicated for a pregnant woman to deliver a baby as a result of lead ingestion. Even if the baby is born, it can develop severe health complications that may be long-lasting. Because lead can pile up in bones, it can be difficult to get rid of it immediately. Moreover, it can cause the fetus to be fed with nutrients that have been exposed to lead.

miscarriages from lead poisoning

Symptoms That Develop Slowly

Not all cases of lead ingestion cause ostensible symptoms that affect the body. In some cases, you may not even notice the effects because low amounts of lead cause weak symptoms. That's not to say that it's not dangerous, it just means that the signs aren't immediately felt. Over time, symptoms can develop slowly, and mostly affect the organs of the body including the kidneys and the gastrointestinal system. Of course, high levels of lead ingestion will lead to severe short-term symptoms. If you suspect lead poisoning, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

lead poison

Hindered Concentration

The presence of lead in the body may cause you to lose focus and lower your ability to concentrate for long periods of time. Even in fully grown adults, the effects of lead ingestion can be highly damaging. Lead can affect the brain in multiple areas, for example, it can impair memory, making it challenging to remember events, names and important dates. It can also reduce IQ, and make it more challenging to solve analytical problems. Some people report feeling "brain fog," which refers to being unable to form clear thoughts.

effects of lead poisoning

Damaged Blood Cells

A harmful effect of lead is the damage it can inflict on healthy cells of the body. Lead is perilous because it attaches itself to red blood cells and reduces their ability to transport oxygen. Moreover, because cells become damaged their ability to reproduce is significantly reduced. This can lead to different issues, such as developmental problems as well as ailments of the cardiovascular system. For example, lead poisoning can lead to high blood pressure as well as severe fatigue and overall weakness. Another effect of lead is that it can cause seizures, and in extreme cases, death. That's why it's essential to detect lead as early as possible.

lead poisoning blood

Kidney Damage

Kidneys are highly prone to becoming damaged after ingesting lead. Kidneys are one of the body's most important organs and filter out different liquids, including blood. And because lead quickly finds its way into the bloodstream, it can cause significant damage to the kidneys. In fact, 65% of lead in blood is filtered in the kidneys. Unfortunately, it takes time before symptoms develop, meaning that once the problem surfaces, it may be too difficult to treat it. In severe cases, kidney failure can occur, which requires medical intervention in the form of dialysis.

lead poisoning


This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.