Essay On Lead Pollution

Lead is a very strong poison. When a person ingests an object or breathes dusts that contain lead, some of the poison from the lead can stay in the body and result in serious health complications. Children living in older houses are prune to have levels of lead. It is stated that workers are also at risk for toxic lead exposure. Lead is a chemical that is extremely harmful to infants than adults due to the fact it affects a child’s brain and nerves. Age plays a crucial role in the harmfulness of lead, the younger the child is the more damaging lead can become. Babies that are unborn are at higher risk. It is understood that children who reside in old and poorly maintained houses are at much higher risk to getting exposed to lead (Button, 2008).

There are many possible complications lead contamination can lead to, these include but are not limited to behaviour and attitude problems; falling behind or failing at school; difficulty in hearing; lower IQ; growth delays. Higher levels of lead can ultimately cause vomiting, coma, seizure, etc. Lead toxicity continues to be a current issues specifically in children today because of thousand of toys and furniture being imported daily from overseas; the environment; and due to partial abatement being done in homes as a way to save money. Race and social class plays a crucial part in the existence of lead contamination today. Today, roughly more than 4 million children around the world are being exposed to high levels of lead. These lead levels are above 5 micrograms per deciliter or above acceptable levels.


Lead toxicity has been a huge issue in recent years. Studies have shown how lead’s toxic effects affect both the child’s development of the nervous system and the brain, and adult regression problems. According to research, new toys and furniture from overseas today contain significantly high amounts of lead. When a child puts an object containing lead in his or her mouth, the child can suffer serious form of lead poisoning. Children are most vulnerable to lead exposure since at that age they are not aware of what should and should not be put in the mouth. Lead poisoning is also significantly dangerous to children than adults is due to their low body weight, thus any amount of lead is more quickly absorbed and becomes toxic. A child ranging from ages zero to six are specifically vulnerable to lead contamination due to the reasons outlines above.

According to recent news, hazardous toys, furniture and jewelleries contains excessive amounts of lead and continue to be sold to adults and children. Many of these toys and furniture imported from overseas are cheaper to buy at retail stores. Thus, social class in this situation plays an important role in determining the cause of lead exposure. Social class is defined as “a status hierarchy in which individuals are classified on the basis of esteem and prestige acquired mainly through economic success and accumulation of wealth.” There are four types of social classes within a society: upper class; middle class; working class and lower class. People from low-income background are unable to afford and meet the basic needs for their families.

This also includes the lack of making healthy choices for their families due to affordability. People from the lower class will buy toys for their children or furniture for their home at lower prices and low quality (Feng, Keller Wang & Wang, 2010). According to the reading “Lead Contamination in the 1990s and Beyond: A Follow Up” by Patricia Widener, children from the minorities and from low-income families have greater risk of lead poisoning completely due to the fact of inadequate income (Widener, 2000).

According to Patricia Widener, having such indicators such as race and poverty strengthens the stereotype that the problem still exists only amongst the poor and marginalized groups. This creates rather a false sense of security for those that have higher socioeconomic status, which on the contrary is not the case at all, and it certainly does not generate political pressure (Widener, 2000).


Lead can be found in all parts of our environment. This includes the air, water, as well as paint and dust in houses. Human activities are one of the reasons to the high exposure to lead in the environment. One of the main human activities includes lead smelting which leads to lead pollution. Lead smelting is the process of extracting heavy metal from the ore (Westra & Bill, 1995). According to studies, heavy metal exposure is found to be hazardous to an individual’s health. These metals include lead, mercury and cadmium.

According to research, lead smelting is the main reason for brain damage in both children and adults (Westra, 1995). Exposure to these heavy metals are said to be associated with lung cancer. Lead smelting is very common in developing countries and has caused environmental contamination through mining pollution. In many of the developing countries, extracted heavy metals are found in piles of waste that contains lead poison. Thus, lead dust formulates and is then contaminated in the water systems in the surrounding areas. The extraction and smelting of lead can ultimately lead to a huge amount of toxic pollution and thus is huge contributor to lead contamination globally (Greene, Tehranifar, DeMartini Faciano & Nagin, 2015).

According to a study, lead smelter has been predominately operated by African Americans (Westra & Bill, 1995). This explains why a lot of African American children are more exposed to lead contamination than white Americans. Lead smelting in Africa has caused serious and fatal health problems to many people residing near the mining area (Westra & Bill, 1995). Lead has also been exposed to the air, dust, and homes in these areas. According to research, children who resided near these smelters had an increase in their blood lead levels.

History has depicted how there has been a close link or association between racial discrimination and minorities (Widener, 2000). Families from the minorities reside in the unhealthiest and worse homes in the area. These homes are usually very old, and poorly maintained. This is seen in many developing countries and in other parts of the world where people are categorized in social classes and are treated according to their social status within the society (Whitehead, Johnson, Boone, Grant, 2012). According to research, in the United States, African American children are at higher risk to get exposed to lead than white American. Most recent data states that African children from ages zero to six are twice as much at higher risk for lead contamination than white children (Button, 2008).

According to Patricia Widener, race and class plays a critical role in terms of environmental exposure. The poorer or “less white” an individual is, the higher the risk of illness and inadequate health. Individuals affected by lead were minorities of urban families living in poverty (Widener, 2000). In terms of race, Widener states that non-white Black and Hispanics were mostly exposed to lead poisoning (Widener, 2000).


Families from low-income or from a low social class group tend to reside in old, badly maintained house. By living in these poorly maintained homes, they are risking their health by being exposed to lead poisoning. According to Patricia Widener, many children who come a low-income background live in poor conditioned houses are usually twice as much exposed to lead poisoning at a higher rate than average (Widener, 2000).

Lead levels have continuing to increase day-by-day among socially and economically disadvantaged children. Families from lower class have no choice but to live in houses that are partially lead abated, and reside near an un-friendly environment, for instance, near heavy traffic and mining industries. Residing near these areas introduce children and homes to lead dust that leads children and adults to inhale lead that is also as toxic to health as ingesting lead.

According to studies, families who live in homes that were built before 1978 is at higher danger for lead poisoning. Low-income families usually have no solution to fix this problem as soon as they find out the paint is coming off. They are unable to move out of their homes; they are unable to file a complaint due to the fear of being forcibly moved out of their homes. Thus, they have no one to seek advice or help from to resolve this serious health issue.

According to recent news, more than thirty million homes in the United States are painted with lead. More than twenty million of these homes include serious lead exposures that impact the individual’s health significantly. Not only are old homes in the United States are lead contaminated, but so are the new built homes. These homes, although, are well maintained and in good condition, contain poisons like lead affecting millions of people living in the country. The US is in the current process of eliminating lead from these houses so that there is less exposure and reduced health hazards that can have a fatal effect on an individual’s life.

According to Patricia Widener, race is a major contributing factor in predicting the degree of lead exposure (Widener, 2000). African American children are exposed through interior homes which had containment dust, lead content on paint surfaces poorly due to the badly maintained housing systems (Widener, 2000).

Thus, it is clearly understood that children who are living old, poorly maintained properties are at much higher risk. In order to resolve this issue of lead contamination, low-income families should be given sufficient resources to restore badly maintained houses and properties and should be given proper knowledge of how to keep their properties maintain longer and healthy (Shelby & Prosterman, 1998).


In conclusion, lead poisoning is a very serious and a very dangerous hazard not only to health but to the environmental as well. Once a person is contacted with lead contamination it can result in some dangerous health hazards. These hazards can include brain damage in little children. Babies from the ages of zero to six are the most vulnerable since lead is found in many of their toys. Children put more objects in their mouth without realizing the toxicity of lead and the harm it can have on their overall health. Lead is not only vulnerable to children but also affects adults just as equally due to the social and environmental factors.

Some of the most common complications individuals can face with exposed to lead include behaviour issues; inability to focus in school; significantly lower IQ levels; and delays in growth. The higher the lead content found in the body, the worse the complications can get and can lead to coma and/or seizures. Lead toxicity is still an existent problem in many parts of the world, especially in developing countries. The reasons for lead contamination include toys and furniture being imported from overseas and sold to children and families from low-income families who are unable to afford good quality and expensive toys for their children or furniture for their homes.

The environment plays a crucial role in the exposure of lead this includes lead smelting. Finally, partial lead abatement or lead-based paint found in old houses have high levels of lead content and is proven to be hazardous to children and the households. Race and social class has also been portrayed in the issue of lead contamination. African Americans are more exposed to lead toxicity than white Americans. Lower class and low-income families are unable to afford lead-free houses and do not have the money to buy good quality products that does not contain lead or other health hazardous chemicals.