Lead Poisoning Nursing Management


Lead poisoning, also called Plumbism or painter’s colic, is a condition caused by an increased level of heavy metal lead in the body. The heavy metal, lead, is a very strong poison. When an individual swallows a lead object or breathes in lead dust, some of the poison can stay in the body and cause serious health problems.

When can you say that a child has been poisoned with lead?

Lead poisoning is usually said to be present when the child has two successive blood lead levels greater than 10 ug/dl.

Where can lead be found?

Lead can be found on various places and in different things especially on old houses. Most commonly lead can be found in the following places:

  • House paints before 1978. Small children often swallow paint chips or dust from lead-based paint that results to plumbism.
  • Gasoline
  • Storage batteries
  • Pewter pitcher and dinnerware
  • Soil contaminated by decades of car exhaust or years of house paint scrapings. Lead is more common in soil near highways and houses.
  • Old toys and furniture that are painted before 1976
  • Painted toys and decorations with unknown place of production.
  • Lead bullets, fishing sinkers and curtain weights
  • Plumbing pipes and faucets. Nowadays new building code required a lead-free solder. However, lead is still found in some modern faucets that may result to the presence of lead in drinking water in homes, and unfortunately it can lead to lead poisoning. If you have experienced this, you might want to seek advice from someone like this lead poisoning attorney who may be able to help you with information on your case.
Diagram of the effects of lead exposure. Seattle Times 2014 With GUNRANGES-LEAD-3

Diagram of the effects of lead exposure. Seattle Times 2014

Methods of Screening
  • Serum ferritin. This is the most widely used screening method in determining blood lead levels. However, this test requires the use of atomic absorption spectrophotometry, which is a costly procedure.
  • Erythrocyte protoporphyrin test. This is a free and simple screening method that only involves a fingerstick. Protoporphyrin is elevated in children with lead poisoning as lead blocks protoporphyrin from entering the heme portion of the blood component.
  • Radiograph. A radiograph of the abdomen may reveal paint chips in the intestinal tract.
Management and Prevention of lead poisoning
  1. Remove the child from the environemtn containing lead or removal of the source of lead from the child’s environment.
  2. The walls must be covered with a paneling or Masonite.
  3. For children with lead level greater than 20 ug/dl, an oral chelating agent such as Succimer may be prescribed.
  4. Keep the home dust-free as possible.
  5. Have everyone wash their hands before eating.
  6. Water should be tested for lead. When tested positive, containing high levels of lead, consider installing an effective filtering device or switch to bottled water for drinking and cooking
  7. Avoid canned goods from foreign countries.
  8. Throw out old painted toys if you do not know whether the paint contains lead.