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How to Remove Lead From the Body

by
author image Virginia Franco
Based in Charlotte, N.C., Virginia Franco has more than 15 years experience freelance writing. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including the education magazine "My School Rocks" and Work.com. Franco has a master's degree in social work with an emphasis in health care from the University of Maryland and a journalism degree from the University of Richmond.
How to Remove Lead From the Body
Blood sample Photo Credit Belyjmishka/iStock/Getty Images

Although lead poisoning instances have decreased since lead was eliminated from gasoline and paint in 1978, lead poisoning is still a major public health problem in the United States, in particular in older homes and in cities on the East Coast, according to the NIH. A two-pronged approach is recommended to eliminate lead from the body, which involves eliminating the exposure while simultaneously taking medical action to remove the lead that has been accumulated.

Step 1

Cease your exposure to lead in your environment, if possible. Actions that can be taken include cleaning up paint chips and any peeling lead-based paint, as well as weekly cleaning with an all-purpose detergent to eliminate lead-contaminated dust that builds up on floors, countertops and window sills. If your plumbing contains lead pipes as is the case in many older homes, let the cold water run for several minutes before using it for drinking or cooking.

Step 2

Begin a prescription course of polythylene glycol if an abdominal x-ray shows evidence of lead. This medication is usually administered using a process known as "whole-bowel irrigation," where a stomach tube is inserted by mouth to wash the contents of the stomach and intestine.

Step 3

Follow doctor's directions with regards to taking succimer tablets by mouth if tests indicate mild lead poisoning.

Step 4

Make arrangements for a hospitalization where chelation therapy will be administered if your doctor diagnoses serious lead poisoning. Although sometimes a doctor will not require hospitalization, the drug treatment will remain the same. A drug known as dimercaprol will be administered via intravenous tube, intramuscular injections or by mouth. Chelating drugs work by binding to the lead, allowing it to pass into the urine and leave your body.

Step 5

Return to the doctor for repeated blood tests. These will need to occur on a regular basis as indicated by your doctor, who will continue monitoring you until your blood's lead count returns to a safe level.

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